French Togoland became Togo in 1960. General Gnassingbe EYADEMA, installed as
military ruler in 1967, is Africa's longest-serving head of state. Despite the
facade of multiparty elections that resulted in EYADEMA's victory in 1993, the
government continues to be dominated by the military. In addition, Togo has come
under fire from international organizations for human rights abuses and is plagued
by political unrest. Most bilateral and multilateral aid to Togo remains frozen.
bounded by Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, and the Gulf of Guinea. It stretches 579
kilometers (360 mi.) north from the gulf and is only 160 kilometers (100 mi.)
wide at the broadest point. The country consists primarily of two savanna plains
regions separated by a southwest-northwest range of hills (the Chaine du Togo).
Togo's climate varies from tropical to savanna. The south is humid, with temperatures
ranging from 23oC to 32oC (75oF to 90oF). In the north, temperature fluctuations
are greater-from 18oC to more than 38oC (65oF-100oF).
Togo's population of 4.6 million people (2000 est.) is composed of about 21 ethnic
groups. The two major groups are the Ewe in the South and the Kabye in the North.
Population distribution is very uneven due to soil and terrain variations. The
population is generally concentrated in the south and along the major north-south
highway connecting the coast to the Sahel. Age distribution also is uneven; more
than one-half of the Togolese are less than 15 years of age. The ethnic groups
of the coastal region, particularly the Ewes (about 21% of the population), constitute
the bulk of the civil servants, professionals, and merchants, due in part to the
former colonial administrations which provided greater infrastructure development
in the south. The Kabye (12% of the population) live on marginal land and traditionally
have emigrated south from their home area in the Kara region to seek employment.
Their historical means of social advancement has been through the military and
law enforcement forces, and they continue to dominate these services.
of the southern peoples use the Ewe or Mina languages, which are closely related
and spoken in commercial sectors throughout Togo. French, the official language,
is used in administration and documentation. The public primary schools combine
French with Ewe or Kabye as languages of instruction, depending on the region.
English is spoken in neighboring Ghana and is taught in Togolese secondary schools.
As a result, many Togolese, especially in the south and along the Ghana border,
speak some English.
The Ewes moved into
the area which is now Togo from the Niger River valley between the 12th and 14th
centuries. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portuguese explorers and traders
visited the coast. For the next 200 years, the coastal region was a major raiding
center for Europeans in search of slaves, earning Togo and the surrounding region
the name "The Slave Coast." In an 1884 treaty signed at Togoville, Germany declared
a protectorate over a stretch of territory along the coast and gradually extended
its control inland. Because it became Germany's only self-supporting colony, Togoland
was known as its model possession. In 1914, Togoland was invaded by French and
British forces and fell after brief resistance. Following the war, Togoland became
a League of Nations mandate divided for administrative purposes between France
and the United Kingdom.
After World War II, the mandate became a UN trust territory
administered by the United Kingdom and France. During the mandate and trusteeship
periods, western Togo was administered as part of the British Gold Coast. In 1957,
the residents of British Togoland voted to join the Gold Coast as part of the
new independent nation of Ghana.
By statute in 1955, French Togo became an
autonomous republic within the French union, although it retained its UN trusteeship
status. A legislative assembly elected by universal adult suffrage had considerable
power over internal affairs, with an elected executive body headed by a prime
minister responsible to the legislature. These changes were embodied in a constitution
approved in a 1956 referendum. On September 10, 1956, Nicholas Grunitzky became
prime minister of the Republic of Togo. However, due to irregularities in the
plebiscite, an unsupervised general election was held in 1958 and won by Sylvanus
Olympio. On April 27, 1960, in a smooth transition, Togo severed its constitutional
ties with France, shed its UN trusteeship status, and became fully independent
under a provisional constitution with Olympio as president.
A new constitution
in 1961 established an executive president, elected for 7 years by universal suffrage
and a weak National Assembly. The president was empowered to appoint ministers
and dissolve the assembly, holding a monopoly of executive power. In elections
that year, from which Grunitzky's party was disqualified, Olympio's party won
90% of the vote and all 51 National Assembly seats, and he became Togo's first
During this period, four principal political parties existed
in Togo: the leftist Juvento (Togolese youth movement); the Union Democratique
des Populations Togolaises (IDPT); the Parti Togolais Du Progres (PTP), founded
by Grunitzky but having limited support; and the Unite Togolaise (UT), the party
of President Olympio. Rivalries between elements of these parties had begun as
early as the 1940s, and they came to a head with Olympio dissolving the opposition
parties in January 1962 ostensibly because of plots against the majority party
government. Many opposition members, including Grunitzky, fled to avoid arrest.
On January 13, 1963, President Olympio was assassinated in an uprising of army
non-commissioned officers dissatisfied with conditions following their discharge
from the French army. Grunitzky returned from exile 2 days later to head a provisional
government with the title of prime minister. On May 5, 1963, the Togolese adopted
a new constitution which reinstated a multi-party system, chose deputies from
all political parties for the National Assembly, and elected Grunitzky as president
and Antoine Meatchi as vice president. Nine days later, President Grunitzky formed
a government in which all parties were represented.
During the next several
years, the Grunitzky government's power became insecure. On November 21, 1966,
an attempt to overthrow Grunitzky, inspired principally by civilian political
opponents in the UT party, was unsuccessful. Grunitzky then tried to lessen his
reliance on the army, but on January 13, 1967, Lt. Col. Etienne Eyadema (later
Gen. Gnassingbe Eyadema) ousted President Grunitzky in a bloodless military coup.
Political parties were banned, and all constitutional processes were suspended.
The committee of national reconciliation ruled the country until April 14, when
Eyadema assumed the presidency. In late 1969, a single national political party,
the Assembly of the Togolese People (RPT), was created, and President Eyadema
was elected party president on November 29, 1969. In 1972, a national referendum,
in which Eyadema ran unopposed, confirmed his role as the country's president.
In late 1979, Eyadema declared a third republic and a transition to greater
civilian rule with a mixed civilian and military cabinet. He garnered 99.97% of
the vote in uncontested presidential elections held in late 1979 and early 1980.
A new constitution also provided for a national assembly to serve primarily as
a consultative body. Eyadema was reelected to a third consecutive 7-year term
in December 1986 with 99.5% of the vote in an uncontested election. On September
23, 1986, a group of some 70 armed Togolese dissidents crossed into Lome from
Ghana in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Eyadema government.
and 1990, Togo, like many other countries, was affected by the winds of democratic
change sweeping eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. On October 5, 1990, the trial
of students who handed out antigovernment tracts sparked riots in Lome. Antigovernment
demonstrations and violent clashes with the security forces marked the months
that followed. In April 1991, the government began negotiations with newly formed
opposition groups and agreed to a general amnesty that permitted exiled political
opponents to return to Togo. After a general strike and further demonstrations,
the government and opposition signed an agreement to hold a "national forum" on
June 12, 1991.
The national forum, dominated by opponents of President Eyadema,
opened in July 1991 and immediately declared itself to be a sovereign "National
Conference." Although subjected to severe harassment from the government, the
conference drafted an interim constitution calling for a 1-year transitional regime
tasked with organizing free elections for a new government. The conference selected
Joseph Kokou Koffigoh, a lawyer and human rights group head, as transitional prime
minister but kept President Eyadema as chief of state for the transition, although
with limited powers.
A test of wills between the president and his opponents
followed over the next 3 years during which President Eyadema gradually gained
the upper hand. Frequent political paralysis and intermittent violence marked
this period. Following a vote by the transitional legislature (High Council of
the Republic) to dissolve the President's political party--the RPT--in November
1991, the army attacked the prime minister's office on December 3 and captured
the prime minister. Koffigoh then formed a second transition government in January
1992 with substantial participation by ministers from the President's party. Opposition
leader Gilchrist Olympio, son of the slain president Sylvanus Olympio, was ambushed
and seriously wounded apparently by soldiers on May 5, 1992.
In July and August
1992, a commission composed of presidential and opposition representatives negotiated
a new political agreement. On September 27, the public overwhelmingly approved
the text of a new, democratic constitution, formally initiating Togo's fourth
The democratic process was set back in October 1992, when elements
of the army held the interim legislature hostage for 24 hours. This effectively
put an end to the interim legislature. In retaliation, on November 16, opposition
political parties and labor unions declared a general strike intended to force
President Eyadema to agree to satisfactory conditions for elections. The general
strike largely shut down Lome for months and resulted in severe damage to the
In January 1993, President Eyadema declared the transition at an end
and reappointed Koffigoh as prime minister under Eyadema's authority. This set
off public demonstrations, and, on January 25, members of the security forces
fired on peaceful demonstrators, killing at least 19. In the ensuing days, several
security force members were waylaid and injured or killed by civilian oppositionists.
On January 30, 1994, elements of the military went on an 8-hour rampage throughout
Lome, firing indiscriminately and killing at least 12 people. This incident provoked
more than 300,000 Togolese to flee Lome for Benin, Ghana, or the interior of Togo.
Although most had returned by early 1996, some still remain abroad.
25, 1993, armed Togolese dissident commandos based in Ghana attacked Lome's main
military camp and tried unsuccessfully to kill President Eyadema. They inflicted
significant casualties, however, which set off lethal reprisals by the military
against soldiers thought to be associated with the attackers.
domestic and foreign pressure and the burden of the general strike, the presidential
faction entered negotiations with the opposition in early 1993. Four rounds of
talks led to the July 11 Ouagadougou agreement setting forth conditions for upcoming
presidential and legislative elections and ending the general strike as of August
3, 1993. The presidential elections were set for August 25, but hasty and inadequate
technical preparations, concerns about fraud, and the lack of effective campaign
organization by the opposition led the chief opposition candidates--former minister
and Organization of African Unity Secretary General Edem Kodjo and lawyer Yawovi
Agboyibo--to drop out of the race before election day and to call for a boycott.
President Eyadema won the elections by a 96.42% vote against token opposition.
About 36% of the voters went to the polls; the others boycotted.
armed dissidents launched a new commando attack on military sites in Lome in January
1994. President Eyadema was unhurt, and the attack and subsequent reaction by
the Togolese armed forces resulted in hundreds of deaths, mostly civilian. The
government went ahead with legislative elections on February 6 and February 20,
1994. In generally free and fair polls as witnessed by international observers,
the allied opposition parties UTD and CAR together won a narrow majority in the
National Assembly. On April 22, President Eyadema named Edem Kodjo, the head of
the smaller opposition party, the UTD, as prime minister instead of Yawovi Agboyibo,
whose CAR party had far more seats. Kodjo's acceptance of the post of prime minister
provoked the CAR to break the opposition alliance and refuse to join the Kodjo
Kodjo was then forced to form a governing coalition with the RPT.
Kodjo's government emphasized economic recovery, building democratic institutions
and the rule of law and the return of Togolese refugees abroad. In early 1995,
the government made slow progress toward its goals, aided by the CAR's August
1995 decision to end a 9-month boycott of the National Assembly. However, Kodjo
was forced to reshuffle his government in late 1995, strengthening the representation
by Eyadema's RPT party, and he resigned in August 1996. Since then, Eyadema has
reemerged with a sure grip on power, controlling most aspects of government.
the June 1998 presidential election, the government prevented citizens from effectively
exercising the right to vote. The Interior Ministry declared Eyadema the winner
with 52% of the vote in the 1998 election; however, serious irregularities in
the government's conduct of the election strongly favored the incumbent and appear
to have affected the outcome materially. Although the government did not obstruct
the functioning of political opponents openly, the President used the strength
of the military and his government allies to intimidate and harass citizens and
opposition groups. The government and the state remained highly centralized: President
Eyadema's national government appointed the officials and controlled the budgets
of all subnational government entities, including prefectures and municipalities,
and influenced the selection of traditional chiefs.
The second multi-party
legislative elections of Eyadema's 33-year rule were held on March 21, 1999. However,
the opposition boycotted the election, in which the ruling party won 79 of the
81 seats in the National Assembly. Those two seats went to candidates from little-known
independent parties. Procedural problems and significant fraud, particularly misrepresentation
of voter turnout marred the legislative elections.
After the legislative election,
the government announced that it would continue to pursue dialog with the opposition.
In June 1999, the RPT and opposition parties met in Paris, in the presence of
facilitators representing France, Germany, the European Union, and La Francophonie
(an international organization of French-speaking countries), to agree on security
measures for formal negotiations in Lome. In July 1999, the government and the
opposition began discussions, and on July 29, 1999, all sides signed an accord
called the "Lome Framework Agreement," which included a pledge by President Eyadema
that he would respect the constitution and not seek another term as president
after his current one expires in 2003. The accord also called for the negotiation
of a legal status for opposition leaders, as well as for former heads of state
(such as their immunity from prosecution for acts in office). In addition, the
accord addressed the rights and duties of political parties and the media, the
safe return of refugees, and the security of all citizens. The accord also contained
a provision for compensating victims of political violence. The President also
agreed to dissolve the National Assembly in March and hold new legislative elections,
which would be supervised by an independent national election commission (CENI)
and which would use the single-ballot method to protect against some of the abuses
of past elections. However, the March 2000 date passed without presidential action,
and new legislative elections were ultimately rescheduled for October 2001. Because
of funding problems and disagreements between the government and opposition, the
elections were again delayed, this time until March 2002.
As called for in
the Lome Framework Agreement, a joint implementation committee (JIC) began meeting
on August 10, 1999, to implement the agreement's provisions. In December 1999,
the JIC sent new Electoral Code legislation to the government establishing the
new CENI. On April 5, 2000, the President signed into law a new Electoral Code
that established the CENI, which is composed of 10 members of the President's
RPT party and 10 members of the opposition. Most opposition parties accepted the
new Electoral Code. In July 2000, the CENI elected Artheme Ahoomey-Zunu, a member
of the opposition Pan-African Patriotic Convergence Party (CPP), to be its president.