Tag: Politics

Death and Democracy

Filed in Missions by on 19th Feb 2010

Lomé, Togo – After the death of Africa’s longest-serving dictator, Eyadéma Gnassingbé, on the 5th of February 2005, one might be forgiven for thinking that democracy could return to Togo. However, the people living in this small sliver of a country in West Africa nestled betweenGhana and Benin had little reason for hope that day. General Eyadéma had ruled the country with an iron hand for 38 years since seizing power in a coup d’état in January 1967.

Gnassingbé died on a Saturday morning. By Saturday night, state media not only informed them of his death but also that the army had named his son Faure as his successor. Togo’s prime minister at the time, Kofi Sama, referred to General Yadéma’s death as a national castastrophe, and spoke of the need to preserve peace and national unity. While President Jacques Chirac spoke of Gnassingbé’s death in terms of profound sadness and of how France was losing a close friend, the people of Togo learned that the country’s borders were now closed and all land, maritime and air travel into or out of the country forbidden.

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