International Information Programs
February 16, 2005

February 16, 2005





**  African dailies denounce political transition in Togo as an unconstitutional "coup d'état."

**  Commentators call Togo military's actions "treason against African democracy."

**  The AU and ECOWAS must resist the coup "by all possible means."

**  Skeptical of French interests, some call Paris' condemnation mere "lip-service."




'North Korea-like' succession--  African dailies condemned the installation by the military of Faure Gnassingbe as president of Togo following the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema.  Calling the move a "scandal," editorialists said the military had shown "flagrant contempt" for the constitution by staging a "coup d'état."  Botswana's independent Mmegi/The Reporter called the move "an act of blatant rape of the people's democratic right to determine the future of their nation."  Writers termed the hurried rewrite of Togo's constitution canceling required elections "worthy of a banana republic."   


'Military predators'--  Many analysts argued that events in Togo ran counter to Africa's recent commitment to democracy and that, as a South African journal put it, Togo "has missed a great opportunity to join Africa's quickening march" towards democracy.  "What Togo has done is to break ranks with the rest of her sub-region and continent," betraying the cause of democratization in Africa, stated Ghana's pro-ruling party Accra Mail.  Writers stressed the military belonged "in the barracks" and said Africans "don't want presidents for life anymore."  Kenya's independent, left-of-center Nation agreed, noting that "coups in Africa and elsewhere in the world are no longer fashionable."


AU, ECOWAS 'must face' the challenge--  Commentators asserted that unless "an end is quickly put" to the situation, "one has to fear the worst for Togo and the region," including the possibility of civil war.  "After Cote d'Ivoire," remarked Burkina Faso's private Le Pays, "we don't want another botched transition of power in the region."  Terming it an "acid test" for the organization, papers urged the AU to take "decisive action that sends an unequivocal message to the Togo junta" to reverse the "decision to create a dynasty" and to hold "transparent" elections on time.  Nigeria's independent Punch called on the international community to "support ECOWAS in chasing out the political marauders in Lome from government."


French role 'intriguing'--  Outlets in Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire and Zimbabwe expressed skepticism over France's role in responding to events.  The "so-called condemnations and protests from the Elysée palace," one contended, were merely a " hide French interventionism."  Another suggested that the French military presence in Togo was aimed at "protecting the new regime, not French nationals."  A German daily voiced suspicion that "Mafia-like interests" in France "secretly want to stabilize the coup."  France's right-of-center Le Figaro insisted that "France has the means to weigh in enough to demand the withdrawal" of the new leader; Paris ought to be "the best friend of the right of law and democracy."


Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,


EDITOR:  Steven Wangsness


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 34 reports from 15 countries February 7 - 15, 2005.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.




SOUTH AFRICA:  "Togo Coup"


The liberal Witness commented (2/8):  “Togo...never fitted the Nepad template.  Its ruler...seized power in a coup [and]...ruled the land with an iron grip.  His sudden death, however, has not apparently opened the doors to democratic change....  Is organized Africa in the shape of the African Union going to acquiesce in what is in effect another coup d’état?...  AU president...Obasanjo urged fellow African leaders not to accept the transition of power in Togo.  Its response will provide an acid test for the African Union.  Will the army and the younger Eyadema be allowed to get away with it?”


"Farce In Togo"


Balanced Business Day editorialized (2/8):  “Togo...has missed a great opportunity to join Africa’s quickening march towards democracy....  To its eternal credit, the African Union (AU) was quick to say that the succession amounted to a coup d’état.  In the same vein the European Union (EU) and the International Organization of Francophone Countries both said constitutional order should be respected and reestablished in the country.  These calls should be echoed throughout Africa....  The EU...has already said that the unconstitutional changes...would have consequences for Togo.  Whether the new president, who is said to be a moderate, will heed these warnings remains to be seen.  What follows is a stiff test for him, but an even bigger one for the AU and its leaders.”


"AU Must Expel Togo"


The liberal Star judged (2/8):  “The Togo authorities have never respected constitutionality....  The fact that the military has now ensured Faure Gnassingbe rules until 2008 without facing the electorate proves how much these authorities fear real democracy....  The AU...must also adopt other stronger measures to pressure the Togo government to reverse this decision to create a dynasty and instead to hold elections within the stipulated two-month period.  Togo has been for all of its post-independence history something of a caricature of an African state.  All the more reason why the AU should now make it instead a model of how the new, democratic Africa deals with recalcitrant, autocratic governments.”


"One Of The Last Coups In Africa"


The moderate Pretoria News opined (2/8):  “Events in Togo...have both disheartened and gratified us.  We are sad to know that it is still possible in this day and age for Africans to behave badly when it comes to matters of ordering society--but we are hugely encouraged to find the bully-boys jumped on at once by the their peers....  Indignation came not only from Europe and the United States (which was to have been expected) but also--and immediately--from Africa....  So on balance we are happy.  We know that the people of the benighted little Togo face hard times in the short term, but we are totally confident that--with Africa’s now-proven backing--they will soon enough enjoy the democracy they deserve.”


BOTSWANA:  "Togo Shames Africa"


Independent Mmegi/The Reporter editorialized (Internet version, 2/8):  "No one can be proud of the scandal that is unfolding in Togo....  This is an act of blatant rape of the people's democratic right to determine the future of their nation.  The world must not watch idly as this sick joke plays itself out.  There must be immediate decisive action that sends an unequivocal message to the Togo junta that what has happened is highly unacceptable and detestable.  All African leaders must heed the call of Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo to reject the junior Gnassingbe's appointment, and for the international community to help organize transparent polls.  This is the time for Africa to redeem itself in the eyes of those who have been doubtful about the feasibility of the continent's democratic project, to confirm that the era when a few gun-toting thugs would hold nations to ransom has passed, and that constitutions passed with the will of the people are sacred documents and not small inconveniences that can be brushed aside at will....  Faure Gnassingbe is in office illegally and illegitimately--and he must be treated as such."


BURKINA FASO:  "The First Bodies Of 'Baby Doc'"


Pro-ogvernment L'Observateur Paalga observed (2/14):  "It has only been a week since this column said, 'dogs cannot be made into cats.'  For those who doubt this still, Faure Gnassingbe just provided the most bloody of proofs:  at least three persons were killed in Lome on Saturday during a peaceful protest the unconstitutional coup d'état....  Our African 'Baby Doc' who wants to be to Togo what Jean-Claude Duvalier was to Haiti...has thus notched his first bodies, which certainly will not be his last.  Little by little, all of the ingredients are in play to return Togo to an explosive state.


"Chronicle Of Foolishness:  The Afromafia"


Private, pro-opposition Le Pays editorialized (2/11):  "The North Korean-type succession which just came to the fore in Togo is only a residual consequence of the complicity of this Afromafia--this syndicate of African heads of state, this closed circle of pariahs--all of whom are interchangeable and impose poitical terrorism on their fellow citizens as a result of citizen apathy....  It is because of these mafia-like and execrable relations between African chiefs of state, that it became convenient to throw responsibility on France for parental acceptance of Togo's dictatorial situation....  No one is fooled.  Chirac has always been the principal guarantor for Togo's totalitarian right to power."


"Not Another Botched Transition"


Mahorou Kanazoe commented in private, pro-opposition Le Pays (2/8):  "Unless an end is quickly put to the current events, one has to fear the worst for Togo and the region.  After Cote d'Ivoire, we don't want another botched transition of power in the region.  What is happening in Togo looks very much like the Ivorian syndrome, where a president remained in power for too long and did not know when to leave.  The other dinosaur, [former Zairean president] Mobutu Sese Seko (Eyadema's mentor) also died abroad, after plunging his country into civil war.  [Former Ivorian president] Houphouet-Boigny, Mobutu and now Eyadema.  It is as if staying in power for as long as possible is a curse....  We don't want presidents for life any more."


"Personality Cult"


Boubakar Sy observed in Sidwaya (2/8):  "The general [Eyadema] built and consolidated his power using terror, a personality cult, corruption and the violation of the country's fundamental laws.  As such it is not in the interest of his entourage that the house of cards the 'helmsman' so patiently built should be blown away at the first breeze.  Such an event would expose them, if not to popular retribution, at least to fair and due judgement in the country's courts."


"Like Father, Like Son"


Pro-government L'Observateur Paalga editorialized (2/7):  "They will not be many who will mourn this man [Eyadema]....  While it is true that Eyadema Jr. has not revealed his intentions, we can already say that the matter has got off to a bad start....  At this point one can only hope that the new government will be banished from the African and international community and that all possible and imaginable pressure will be exerted to make it return its ill-gotten gains."


CAMEROON:  "Save Togo!"


Puis Njawey wrote in Yaounde-based, pro-opposition bi-weekly Le Messenger held (2/7):  "The prototypical example of the race of dinosaurs who continue to rule in Francophone Africa has fallen.  Forever....  A man who enjoyed 38 years...erasing all opposition and annihilating all progressive impulses....  Yes Eyadema has fallen.  Forever!...  However, the army would like to perpetuate his dictatorial reign through his son....  Thus, this matter becomes--no more, no less--than a coup....  The world hopes this is dream.  However, when one mobilizes the army, the required act of allegiance for the state at large in the face of this new strong-man, leave no doubt it is not a dream.  In reality it is a travesty."


COTE D'IVOIRE:  "Banana Republic"


Independent Le Jour Plus editorialized (2/9):  "Within 48 hours, using a method worthy of a banana republic, Eyadema--the son--legalized his power with the help of his supporters....  Beyond their tragic, comic, and burlesque aspects, the events in Togo constitute one more prelude to the murder of democracy, a practice Africa has become the champion of....  [The international community, including the African Union and the United Nations] tend to contribute to the extension of conflicts through unclear policies each time they are called upon."


"Gnassingbe Just Doing Like Other African Leaders"


Valery Foungbe took this view in independent Le Temps (2/9):  "The situation in Togo is a blow to many educated minds....  [Could things] be otherwise in the face of so many similar examples on the continent....  Omar Bongo shamelessly modified the constitution of Gabon for the purpose of staying in power....  Paul Biya did the same thing [in Cameroon]....  The very sick Guinean president, who wishes to die in power, simply changed his country's constitution to be reelected....  [Africa's lack of democracy results in part because] members of the international not care much about presidents that have in mind the respect of democratic values."


"International Community Contradictions"


Zio Moussa noted in government-owned Fraternite Matin (2/9):  "When Cote d'Ivoire chose to make use of its constitution to solve its crisis, the authorities were urged to find a political solution to the crisis....  [Now] when Togo opted for a political solution to solve its crisis, the same exalters that called for a political solution in Cote d'Ivoire came out to demand a constitutional solution....  Those who are asking Togo to 'put its political solution to rest' and use its constitution are very well aware of the risks the Togolese are running with such a solution, knowing how the army is structured....  Who among those making noise and brandishing threats can swear that he was not aware that the father was preparing one of his sons to take over power?"


"France And Togo"


Carell Bowie opined in pro-Ivorian Popular Front Toujours (2/9):  "These so-called condemnations and protests coming from the Elysée palace and the French foreign ministry are nothing but means used to hide French interventionism in this political imbroglio....  The reinforcement of the French military presence in Togo right after Faure Eyadema (sic) seized power is aimed at protecting the new regime, not French nationals whose limited number cannot justify the deployment of such an impressive military armada....  Despite Paris' lip-service condemnation of the coup, it is clear that it is the instigator, and we will blame any consequences that will come from the coup on Paris."


GHANA:  "Don't Send Mixed Signals"


The independent Chronicle editorialized (Internet version, 2/14):  "The swiftness with which the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) condemned the unfolding coup in Togo even before it had fully matured, is highly commendable.  It was expected that all members of the two bodies would lend their support to the protocols reached by these bodies, aimed at helping to entrench and grow democracy to give Africa a new image in order to gain respect among the continents of the world....  We had cautioned...on the need to stay as neutral as possible in the Togolese situation.  The last thing that should be offered a coup regime is anything having the semblance of support.  It emboldens them.  Hearing on the BBC...that Ghana was among five African countries present at what was described as a low-keyed ceremony to swear in the son of the late Togolese leader, Faure Gnassingbe was quite depressing....  If the thinking of government is that being seen not to frown on the developments in Togo, places us in a strategic position to mediate in the crisis, then we are not helping the collective spirit of our regional body.  At least, we have sent the coup leaders a clear message that we are prepared to tolerate them.  The signal is that ECOWAS members are not together against them.  They can hang on.  One of the hallmarks of every good diplomat is his ability to appraise situations, and where in doubt or the situation is tricky as the Togolese situation no doubt was, seek advice from home.  Was it not strange that even after the Nigerian ambassador to Togo had said he was contacting his home government for directives, our ambassador did not deem it necessary to do likewise?  Or is it that our ambassador only carried out government's biddings but is now being diplomatic?  Africa must progress, and not do things for the world to continue seeing it as a sore thumb it would want to do away with.  We must be forthright with Eyadema's son.  We must not send mixed signals to any emerging 'coupists' and dictators."


"Oh No!  Togo Breaks Ranks..."


Pro-ruling party (NPP) Accra Mail observed (Internet version, 2/8):  "Just as we were beginning to bask in the glow of how the democratization bug has bitten us in the ECOWAS sub-region, Ghana's eastern neighbor, Togo, has decided to spoil the fun for all of us.  In what can only be described as a coup d'état, the country's military last week anointed Mr. Faure Gnassingbe (Eyadema) to succeed his father President Eyadema who had died suddenly.  This was in flagrant contempt of the country's constitution....  Justifiably, both the African Union and ECOWAS have rejected this imposition and called for proper democratic and constitutional niceties to be followed.  But it must not end there.  This must be followed by strict sanctions that would totally remove this blight from the union's and commission's territories....  What Togo has done is to break ranks with the rest of her sub-region and continent.  It smacks of nothing but betrayal of a cause.  We have nothing against young Gnassingbe, but by God, we have everything against the way he has been sneaked into power.  He should realize that by agreeing to go with the military in this sneaky fashion, he has all but destroyed what could have been a respectable political career if he had followed the democratic process to achieve power.  But it is not too late:  Mr. Gnassingbe can yet redeem his and his country's image by doing the right thing.  All indications are that he may even be the best among all those power seekers jostling for power in Togo, why then does he spoil his chances with this political chancre?...  Mr. Gnassingbe should look at the kind of problems raging in places like DRC and Cote d'Ivoire and see for himself what messy political succession can lead to."


"The Togolese Army Commits Treason Against African Democracy"


Cameron Duodu commented in the state-owned Ghanaian Times (2/8):  "To safeguard his reputation as a democrat, [President J.A.] Kufuor will...have to lend his full weight in support of the statements of condemnation of the Togo coup made by his other West African friends....  Several questions arise in relation to the Togolese army's sleight of hand.  The first is this:  can the Togolese National Assembly remove its Speaker without laying charges against him?...  The second question relates to whether the Togolese National Assembly is allowed to amend the constitution without referring the amendment to the country as a whole through a referendum....  But those are the issues upon which the African Union and ECOWAS can trip the new regime and enable them to classify the regime as one that came to power unlawfully, and which cannot, therefore be admitted to the councils of either the AU or ECOWAS.  It is politically important for President Kufuor to support his brothers in Africa to get rid of this Togolese illegality, because tension in Togo will inevitably send ripples into Ghana....  Tension can only ease in Togo when free and transparent elections are held there to elect a government that the whole country can accept as a democratically elected one.  We were within 60 days of such an election taking place (with the help of the international community, of course) when the Togolese army struck.  They want to turn the clock back.  It must not be allowed in this age when Africans have accepted good governance and 'peer review' as facts of life."


"Worrying Development"


The independent Chronicle commented (2/7):  "The reported sudden military swearing-in of Faure a worrying development, especially to all who have hoped to see Africa...unburdened of the yoke of military adventurism."


KENYA:  "Coup In Togo Is Disturbing"


The independent, left-of-center Nation judged (Internet version, 2/9):  "Things are falling apart in Togo.  Opposition parties have called for a countrywide strike to protest against the installation by the military of Mr. Faure Gnassingbe, a son of the departed leader Gnassingbe Eyadema, as the new president....  Even more disturbing, the Togolese government has amended the legal provisions that stipulate that the head of the National Assembly should assume power pending national elections.  The suggestion that the army action was meant to fill a possible power void, therefore, should not arise.  Nor is it convincing that the army installed the junior Eyadema because the Speaker was not in the country.  Whatever the reason, the army action denies the people of Togo an opportunity to elect a leader of their choice.  Soldiers belong in the barracks, a message that soldiers have in the past refused to heed in many parts of the continent.   Whenever they roll into the streets ostensibly to give their people more liberties, they almost always end up violating the rights of the civilians they were supposed to redeem.  In any case, the salvation for the Togolese people does not lie with Eyadema's son, as he is likely to follow in his father's footsteps.  The African Union has dismissed the appointment of Mr. Gnassingbe as unconstitutional, and it should reject the entire leadership.  The Togolese experience offers a big test for the AU's peer review mechanism.  Coups in Africa and elsewhere in the world are no longer fashionable, and Togo's military must be told so in very clear terms."


MADAGASCAR:  "Lifetime Presidents"


Nasolo-Valiavo Andriamihaja wrote in French- and Malagasy-language, moderate L'Express (2/7):  "Despite the African Union's good intentions, Africa remains the continent of life presidencies and chronic coups....  What we can wish for Togo is that...the 'stability' of the past four decades does not degenerate into a civil war such was the case in Zaire or Ivory Coast."


NIGERIA:  "No Way For Illegitimate Government"


The Lagos-based independent Punch editorialized (2/15):  "The unconstitutional government in Lome is a sad reminder that Africa is still infested with military predators and political jobbers who have completely lost touch with civilized political conduct.  It is reprehensible that the Togolese military could still dream of dragging the country to the pit at a time when Africa's underdevelopment has become a moral burden on the rest of the world.  The Togolese illegality should not be allowed to stay.  An international monitored election, organized by a constitutional government as provided for in the Togolese Constitution, should be the only acceptable option open to the illegitimate government in Lome.  The international community should support ECOWAS in chasing out the political marauders in Lome from government."


"An Affront"


The Lagos-based independent tabloid Daily Sun remarked (2/14):  "It must be noted that the illegality in Togo was no happenstance.  It must have been programmed by the masterminds of the present arrangement.  But what must be done now is that all democratic forces in Africa should pull resources and ensure that the illegality in Togo is dismantled.  Both ECOWAS and AU should insist that power is entrusted to those who merit it.  It is tragic that political desperadoes would seek to install Eyadema's son as president after 38 years of his inglorious rule.  In a world that is fast consigning dictatorship to the backwaters, the situation in Togo is an affront.  It should be resisted by all means possible.  Both ECOWAS and AU should see this development as one challenge which they must face.  Togo must be made to go through constitutional processes of succession and electioneering.  This imposition should not be allowed to stand." 


"Stop The Nonsense In Togo"


Lagos-based independent This Day argued (2/10):  "We see this as unacceptable not only because it runs counter to the country's constitution but also because it has a potential to plunge Togo into a bloody civil crisis....  The Togolese military authorities have flagrantly breached the constitution and thereby put the nation on the brink of a civil war.  Such a brazen violation of a country's constitution not only makes a mockery of Togo as a nation but also ridicules the entire continent.  The African Union (AU) owes it a duty to reverse this nonsense by insisting that the country must be returned to the path of constitutionality.  Besides, Togo is not synonymous with the Eyademas.  While the AU chairman's prompt rejection of the political development in Lome is welcome, more concrete steps must be taken to reverse it without further delay.  Africa must demonstrate that it has grown past such political roguery.  If the illegal regime would not yield to the dictates of the country's constitution, the international community must not hesitate to impose all necessary sanctions to make it back down.  And should the new government still defy the sanctions and remain intransigent, the AU should consider the use of force.  What is happening in Lome is a clear test of AU's new resolve to foster democracy on the continent."


"A Major Test To AU"


The respected Lagos-based independent Guardian concluded (2/10):  "We commend the disapproving position of ECOWAS and the AU.  The unsavory events in Togo coming on the heels of the recent AU summit in Abuja, Nigeria, present a major test of the efficacy of the African Peer Review Mechanism, a linchpin of the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).  The AU should not just threaten and plead for a return to the jettisoned constitutional order, it should impose immediate sanctions on Togo and the new government.  Nigeria and Ghana must brace themselves for the tasks of enforcing those sanctions.  The lawless usurpers in Lome are deserving of ostracism until they come to heel.  And the AU must be steadfast in this, even when others are indifferent.  The shame of the nonsense in Togo is Africa's.  The AU must, therefore, tackle it promptly.  This step is all the more important to stave off future crisis that is bound to erupt when the Togolese pick up the gauntlet and begin to fight for their liberty and expansion of the political space that was constricted under the late Eyadema.  The West African sub-region has seen a number of hitherto peaceful countries degenerate into war when a long-standing ruler dies.  Cote d'Ivoire is one such recent example.  Togo should not be the next in line.  In all this, France, Togo's colonial ruler, has a key role to play.  Happily, French President Jacques Chirac has pledged his support for the stance of the AU....  But whatever happens, the AU must remain resolute and insist on due process and the restoration of the constitutional order in Togo."


"Time To Act Is Now"


The Lagos-based independent Comet held (2/10):  "The AU...should employ its Constitutional Act to stop the embarrassment in Togo.  The Constituent Act enjoins the AU to intervene by force, if necessary, in any African nation which violates human rights and democracy....  President Obasanjo should also use the new Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) created by the AU at its last weekend's Abuja Summit to appreciate the situation in Togo and take appropriate action to reverse the descent to military dictatorship in the at country.  He should also continue to use his diplomatic clout to rally world opinion for a decisive action against the political cabal in Togo.  The time to act is now before the coup makers gain time and consolidate their hold on the people of Togo through coercive and military force which was the hallmark of the Eyadema dynasty."


"Unconstitutional Succession"


Lagos-based independent New Age editorialized (2/9):  "Significantly, everyone who has condemned the political maneuver in Togo has judged it to be a coup d’état that should not be allowed to stand.  It is expected the world would stand firm against the unconstitutional succession in Togo.  The AU has the most significant role to play in the Togo affair....  If the AU stands firm, and there is no reason it should not, it may help bring the contradiction to a head. It is perhaps time for the old elite long steeped in intemperate politics of exclusion and marginalization to be compelled to give way.  The AU’s resolve will help ensure that the needless crisis in Togo is quickly and constitutionally resolved rather than for it to degenerate into a worst-case scenario for which West Africa is unfortunately noted. Even after this succession crisis is resolved, the AU will have to muster all efforts to ensure that the next elections are held on schedule, while all the forces of confusion are kept in check. It seems that the most difficult part will be what happens in the next six months, as Togo faces the real transition long denied it by Eyadema’s 38 years of sit-tight rule. This crisis may even have the unintended benefit of sending a clear message to those who might be interested in subverting the electoral process that the continental body would not stand for it."


SENEGAL:  "Faking"


Samba Alaar commented in independent Le Populaire (2/8):  "By swearing on the [constitution, the] fundamental text of his country, Eyadema junior shows to what extent he too spurns democracy.  However, basically this is only the top of the African iceberg.  That is the way our constitutions are made.  They are not very useful.  When a president dies, it results in a tribal logic, which dictates its rule.  How many countries on the old continent have constitutions, which are as well-drafted as those of France or the United States?  On the paper, it is always perfect.  However, in the facts, the fundamental texts of our 'states' only serve to fake power usurpation, unbounded appetites, and typically African greed.  The prostitute always appears in the form of a virgin.  And the fool is the one who trusts the simple appearances and the leg movements of the...strip-teaser."


TANZANIA:  "What Happened In Togo Should Not Be Tolerated In Africa"


Independent, moderate, Kiswahili-language tabloid Mtanzania maintained (2/10):  “Togo has now got a new president...the son of the late president.  However, his ascendancy to power is against accepted norms of leadership....  This has been condemned by many countries, including the African Union, which said that the way the change of guard was effected was a big shame for Africa.  It is time the African Union puts in place a system that will ensure that such misbehavior does not go unpunished.  Sanctions or even military action should be considered.  Only by doing so will Africa be able to protect its integrity and redeem its honor within the international community.”


UGANDA:  "Africa Must Reject Togo"


The state-owned, center-right New Vision remarked (Internet version, 2/9):  "The events unfolding in Togo bear all the hallmarks of what ridicules Africa before the world, and short-changes African peoples.  Within a few hours of the death of Africa's longest serving president, Gnassingbe Eyadema, the west African country of Togo had a new leader, installed in most contriving of circumstances. First a military coup, as the army stepped in to fill the power vacuum.  Then in a classic case of intrigue, there was gross manipulation of the constitution.  This then was followed by the installment of the late president's son as the new leader, a crude institution of dynasty.  Public rallies have now also been banned. None of these four phenomena has a place in the modern Africa that we are building.  To catch up with the rest of the world, Africa has set democracy--in the election of leaders, in the rule of law and order, in respect of the governed by the governing--as an objective.  Togo, in failing all three, now becomes a test case for the continent....  The AU by now should be calling an emergency meeting.  Unlike the OAU, its predecessor, the AU is not saddled by provisions barring it from interfering in the affairs of its member countries. Policy makers may want to consider suspending Togo; they may think through economic and other sanctions.  The AU could also use its immense influence to lobby the United Nations and other powers to isolate Togo.  Under the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad), signatories are answerable to the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), which subjects them to checks on certain critical pillars of governance.  While not all African countries are Nepad signatories, the AU should take charge and require all its members to sign up.  This will be the guarantee that governments are, under the revitalized AU, answerable for their actions, and that Africans will no longer be oppressed with impunity, and in perpetuity."


"Will Muhoozi Replace Museveni As In Togo?"


Charles Onyango Obbo wrote in the independent, influential Monitor (Internet version, 2/9)  "The widely held view [in Uganda is] that President Yoweri Museveni has been grooming his son, Major Muhoozi Kainerugaba to take over from him.  That it's one reason he is scouting for the amendment of the constitution to lift presidential term limits, so he can rule until Muhoozi is 'ripe and ready' to succeed him....  The events in Togo...offer us fresh pointers in the politics of son succeeding father in State House.  In fact, Togo is not unique, nor is it a typical African political farce.  Therefore, taken together with other countries where the presidency has been kept in the family, Uganda's likely future becomes a little clearer....  Watch for the signs in Uganda, now that Eyadema has wizened us further.  For he reminds us also that all those rulers, who seek or succeed in handing power to their children started out as military leaders."


ZIMBABWE:  "AU Should Suspend Togo"


The independent Daily News judged (2/8):  "Joseph Kabila, the president of the troubled Democratic Republic of the Congo, is the son of Laurent Kabila, who overthrew the corrupt regime of Mobutu Sese Seko.  So Faure Gnassingbe, the son of one of the most brutal and longest-serving African dictators, Gnassingbe Eyadema, is not blazing a new trail....  It is doubtful if the AU's initial protests at Faure's succession will mature into positive action.  The AU chairman, Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo, sounded firm in his opposition to the shameful events in Togo.  But there has been no call for an emergency meeting of the AU to discuss the Togo crisis.  It is a crisis and we can foresee hundreds, if not thousands, of Togolese being killed as they protest in the streets against this flagrant usurpation of their right to choose their own leaders.  But France's position is intriguing.  It has troops in Togo and backed the European Union's 1993 sanctions against Eyadema's brutal regime.  Today there can be no guarantee that France will protest too strongly against Faure's illegitimate presidency.  President Jacque Chirac's recent criticism of South African president Thabo Mbeki's mediation efforts in the Ivory Coast would suggest that France itself would like to clean up the mess it left in Africa after colonialism.  For the people of Togo, what France needs to do is to restore democracy and the rule of law--ignore the abuse of the constitution which resulted in hasty amendments to allow Eyadema's son to succeed him.  But whatever France does, the AU should suspend Togo from membership immediately.  Since the likelihood of an AU military force invading Togo is nil, the logical act of disapproval is the suspension of its membership of the AU.  This is vital for the AU's credibility.  It cannot stand idly by while the soldiers of Togo take over the country, with Eyadema's son as their puppet....  The AU has a real opportunity to change the course of African history by acting decisively against the new rulers of Togo."




FRANCE:  "Paris Barely Condemns"


Yves Threard observed in right-of-center Le Figaro (2/14):  “What to do with Togo?  Every time something goes wrong in West Africa, everyone is afraid the region will be set on fire.  But Togo is not the Ivory Coast.  This is a country that seems easier to bring back to reason.  And reason means organizing democratic elections....  France has the means to weigh in enough to demand the withdrawal of Eyadema’s son....  Every international institution, the EU and the U.S. have condemned the coup.  The word coup was not uttered by Paris, which preferred to talk about 'putting an end to the transition'....  Chirac recently said that France could not be expected to be 'Africa’s sheriff.'  Granted.  But one could expect it to be the best friend of the right of law and democracy. Without exception.”


GERMANY:  "Good Military, Bad Military"


Domionic Johnson opined in leftist die tageszeitung of Berlin (2/9):  "Not every coup in Africa is bad....  West Africa's democratization wave in 1991 began with such a coup.  But what is now happening in Togo is bad.  By appointing the son of dictator Eyadema, Faure Gnassingbe, a democratization of the country is not to be promoted but to be prevented.  The old guard won the upper hand.  Eyadema's son is to stay in office until the next regular elections in 2008.  This is long enough to consolidate [his power] as patron by pursuing an old style policy....  It would now be the task for Europeans and Africans to find forces in Togo that could organize a counter coup to break the preservation of the Eyadema system.  The former French colonial power will have to play the decisive role....  But many indications are that Mafia-like interests from France, for whom Eyadema has always been a central partner, secretly want to stabilize the coup of the old guard.  If this is true and if the EU closes its eyes to this fact, it will quickly forfeit its good reputation in Africa."


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