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An Election For Togo


The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:

Within sixty days, the citizens of Togo will vote for a new president.

The country's military-appointed ruler, Faure Gnassingbe, stepped down after Togo was suspended from the Economic Community of West African States. ECOWAS imposed sanctions on the government, including a travel ban on Togo's leaders and an arms embargo.

Faure Gnassingbe was installed within hours of the death of his father, President Gnassingbe Eyadema. President Eyadema was an authoritarian ruler installed by the Togolese military in 1967. His government had continually resisted demands for democratization.

The installation of President Eyadema's son was accomplished through a blatant manipulation of Togo's constitution. More than twenty-thousand protestors took to the streets of Lomé, Togo's capital, demanding that Mr. Gnassingbe step down. The African Union also condemned Faure Gnassingbe's unconstitutional succession and banned Togo's government from participating in the group's activities. Mohammed Chambas, secretary-general of the Economic Community of West African States, says that with Faure Gnassingbe's resignation, sanctions have been lifted:

"I think this is a big victory for Togo. It is a victory for Africa. We have set new standards of governance in Africa, and we must be seen to respect and to live up to these new expectations -- respect for constitution and rule of law. And I think what happened in Togo shows the determination of African leaders, of African organizations, to uphold these new standards of governance."

In a statement, the U.S. State Department welcomed the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union, and called on "all Togolese to avoid violence and to seek peaceful national reconciliation through democratic elections."

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