More arrests after Togo coup attempt

While we were in Togo two weeks ago, apparently Kpatcha Gnassingbé, a half brother of the president tried to overthrow the current regime and was arrested a few days after the attempted coup. Today, the official Togolese government news website announced more arrests in relation to this attempted coup.

On Easter Sunday, April 12, troops loyal to President Faure Gnassingbé tried to arrest his brother Kpatcha and a 3-hour gun battle erupted at Kpatcha’s Lomé residence. Kpatcha managed to flee and showed up on Wednesday at the US embassy in Lomé, seeking refuge. Of course the US embassy, after “checking the validity of the arrest warrant,” told Kpatcha to get lost. Kpatcha was detained by Togo security forces shortly thereafter. The reason the state prosecutor Robert Bakai gave for wanting to arrest Kpatcha was evidence that he was ready to stage a coup while the president was out of the country on a trip to China.

At least that’s the official story. Personally, I don’t think that’s all there is to it. The problems between Kpatcha and Faure have been brewing for some time. From what I have heard, Kpatcha believes he was cheated out of the succession to his and Faure’s dad, Gnassingbe Eyadema. Faure, on the other hand, has managed to take control of most profitable industries in Togo, except for the port and the free trade zone, which are controlled by Kpatcha.

Rumor has it that the port also plays a major role in the trafficking of drugs, gold and diamonds, and maybe even weapons into and out of West Africa, and that whoever controls the port and the “free trade zone” also controls that trade. I find that plausible, considering the rather conspicuous wealth Kpatcha has been known to display – like the three (not one or two. Three.) Rolls Royce Phantoms he bought a couple of years ago. I find it hard to believe that managing the legal business of a port would yield such a disposable income.

Be that as it may – the key question is whether Kpatcha was really plotting against Faure, or whether this was a setup, so that Faure could gain control of the port. Considering Kpatcha’s strong ties to the military it’s quite plausible that he was plotting something. But was he really stupid enough to think he could get away with that? From what I know about him – probably yes. Yet, the foiled plot gives Faure now a great excuse to put away his troublesome rival and to consolidate his power in the military

Few people will shed a tear for Kpatcha. It’s certainly good that whatever he planned, it did not succeed. For the average Togolese, the Gnassingbé family’s infighting is not all that interesting. It won’t solve any of their problems, like the problem of the comatose economy in Togo, or the atrocious state of some of the major highways. It just has the potential to make their problems even worse.

Comments are closed.