Elections in Togo – the same old story

In Togo, there was some hope that the this month’s legislative election was going to be bring about some change in the political landscape of that troubled country. In retrospect, I am not sure why. Maybe because Faure’s regime is slightly less brutally oppressive than his father’s? Maybe the increased presence of international observers? The sad fact is that the ruling RPT controls all aspects of government, including the electoral commission, and they are not at all inclined to loosen their grip on power. So another election was rigged to make it look like the Togolese people want the RPT in charge.

The quandary of the opposition in Togo is that they cannot win playing by the rules, because the RPT makes the rules and owns the process. They cannot win by force, because the army is mostly loyal to the Gnassingbe clan, which is supported by the French government. And finally, how can the opposition even begin to break that stranglehold on the country, when it is as fractured as it is, and when most of it’s leadership lives abroad? The reality is that as long as France has no interest in change in Togo, and the rest of the world does not much care, they stand very little chance to effect significant change politically.

In the current situation, the opposition should change it’s approach and adopt a long-term strategy of unifying the democratic forces in Togo, and of building a grassroots organization across the country. It looks like they have enough freedom now to operate openly without too much danger. So if they manage to foster a new generation of leaders, and if they nurture the spirit of participatory democracy across the country, they might effect a cultural change, and change in what people expect from their leaders. Right now, I think expectations are quite low. People expect they leaders to rob them. So they just want leaders in place from their clan or region, so at least they won’t suffer. Togo needs leadership that transcends tribalism and greed. If the Togolese opposition can unify, organize and show such leadership, it might be able to push out the forces that currently hold back their country.

2 Responses to “Elections in Togo – the same old story”

  1. Agbessi Says:

    Yes man, the opposition in Togo seems really not well organized about how to bring change in Togo. Can you imagine that according to the document they signed after the general dialogs the electoral map is so that 10 000 voters in the North part of the country will elect a congressman and in the South 100 000 voters will elect also one congressman? And Lome counts about 700 000 people. Another thing is that after the dialog when asked to join the transitional government the UFC party said No but then later went to the elections? So I agree with you that the Togolese opposition needs to reorganize itself if it it wants Togo’s political arena to change in the long run.

  2. Toffy Says:

    I just want to inform you that people UFC is governed by a high intellectual people; and this party is the only real opposition party in Togo. They know what they are doing. If you are dealing with a totalitarian and despotic regime like Togo’s, you have to be wise. All the rest of the political parties in Togo are part of RPT.