Politics of Togo

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Politics of Togo

Post  kosovohp on Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:33 pm

Togo's transition to democracy is stalled. Its democratic institutions remain nascent and fragile. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma, who ruled Togo under a one-party system for nearly twenty-five of his thirty-seven years in power, died of a heart attack on 5 February 2005. Gravelly ill, he was being transported by plane to a foreign country for care. He died in transit, whilst over Tunisia. Under the Togolese Constitution, the President of the Parliament, Fambaré Ouattara Natchaba, should have become President of the country, pending a new presidential election to be called within sixty days. Natchaba was out of the country, returning on an Air France plane from Paris. The Togolese army, known as Forces Armées Togolaises (FAT) - [or Togolese Armed Forces] closed the nation's borders, forcing the plane to land in nearby Benin. With an engineered power vacuum, the army announced that Eyadéma's son Faure Gnassingbé, who had been the communications minister, would succeed him. However, on 6 February 2005, the Parliament retroactively changed the Constitution, declaring that Faure would hold office for the rest of his father's term, with elections deferred until 2008. The stated justification was that Natchaba was out of the country.[12] The parliament also moved to remove Natchaba as president [13] and replaced him with Faure Gnassingbé, who was sworn in on 7 February 2005, despite international criticism of the succession.[14]

The African Union described the takeover as a military coup d'état.[15] International pressure came also from the United Nations. Within Togo, opposition to the takeover culminated in riots in which several hundred died. There were uprisings in many cities and towns, mainly located in the southern part of the country. In the town of Aného reports of a general civilian uprising followed by a large scale massacre by government troops went largely unreported. In response, Faure Gnassingbé agreed to hold elections and on 25 February, Gnassingbé resigned as president, but soon afterward accepted the nomination to run for the office in April. On 24 April 2005, Gnassingbé was elected President of Togo, receiving over 60% of the vote according to official results. His main rival in the race had been Robert (Bob) Akitani from the Union des Forces du Changement (UFC) [or Union of Forces for Change]. However electoral fraud was suspected, due to a lack of European Union or other independent oversight.[citation needed] Parliament designated Deputy President, Bonfoh Abbass, as interim president until the inauguration.

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