Togo: Will President Faure Gnassingbé Bow Out (Dis)gracefully?

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In an unprecedented defiance of the brute force of the security apparatus and a clear challenge to President Faure Gnassingbé `s rigid authority, tens of thousands of Togolese have angrily protested on the streets of Togo’s capital, Lomé , demanding the introduction of a two-term presidential limit and the end of what they called the “Gnassingbé dynasty.”

Never before has Togo, a country known for its little tolerance for demonstrations and freedom of speech, witnessed such a multitude of courageous demonstrators against the government. President Faure Gnassingbé , who has been at the helm since 2005, took over as president of Togo after the death of his father, Gnassingbé Eyadema, a dictator, who had been in power for 38 years. The power has, therefore, been in the hands of the “Gnassingbé dynasty”   uninterruptedly for 50 years. Unfortunately, many Togolese who have not much to show for the 50 years of the “Gnassingbé dynasty,” are now fed up with the President.

“We suffer too much, we can’t even find food. What country are we in? We don’t want Faure (Gnassingbé ) anymore, he must go,” one demonstrator demanded angrily.

To thwart the mobilization of the protesters via the internet, and prevent violence spreading to many other parts of the country, the government allegedly restricted internet usage, making it difficult for one to use the net effectively. That did not deter the angry Togolese who felt alienated in the face of the insatiable greed of the ruling elites, coupled with the intolerable degree of corruption amongst the Togolese leaders. The government of President Faure Gnassingbé has agreed to introduce a two-term presidential limit through a constitutional amendment, but that concession did not appease the angry protesters, who are now demanding that the president should rather step down.

Like in the Democratic Republic of Zaire, where President Joseph Kabila had smartly beaten the oppositions and angry demonstrators alike by making concessions to the constitutional amendment and presidential term limit, only to stubbornly stay in power, many Togolese do not trust President Faure Gnassingbé `s concession. They believe the concession is part of a ploy by their President to prolong his stay in power.

Now that the angry Togolese have woken up from their slumber and loudly demanded that President Faure Gnassingbé must go, will the president respect the will of his people, who have clearly voiced their opposition to the continuous extension of the “Gnassingbé dynasty”? Or will President Gnassingbé ignore the demands of his people and forcefully defend the fastidious interests of his family dynasty – at all costs?