Sunday, February 06, 2005

Military coup in Togo

There has been an elaborate, but de facto military coup in Togo. This follows the death of strongman Gnassingbe Eyadema who'd ruled for the last 38 years. The constitutional successor, the National Assembly speaker, was out of the country on a diplomatic mission and could not return as Togo's borders were closed followed Eyadema's death. So the army used this as a pretext to the suspend the constitution and appointed one of Eyadema's sons as head of state.

"The Togolese armed forces swear allegiance to Faure Gnassingbe as President of the Republic of Togo," said Gen. Zachari Nandja, armed forces chief of staff. This is quite telling about the mentality of the military in Togo, and many other African countries: they don't swear allegiance to the republic or to the constitution but to an individual.

Then, the Togolese parliament dismissed the speaker from his post. Further, legislators changed the constitution so that there is no longer any no legal requirement to hold elections in Togo within 60 days of a leader's death.

The new article states that the president of the national assembly succeeds the president and can stay in office until the end of the previous president's mandate
, which in this case is 2008.

Then conveniently, Mr Gnassingbe was unanimously voted head of the national assembly which then appointed him head of state, in conformity with the newly rigged constitution.

Oh so curious. This whole process was initiated by the military because they supposed wanted to fill the power vacuum left by the absence of a constitutional successor. Yet the military itself created this situation by closing the borders.

Surely if the military wanted to respect the constitution (snicker), they would've sent a jet to neighboring Benin where the National Assembly speaker had landed since he couldn't enter Togo. Or more simply, they would've let the speaker's plane land in the country. One further wonders why they went through this whole charade for a constitution they suspended in the first place.

The African Union rightly condemned the actions as tantamount to a military coup and rejected the military's farce, as did the West African regional group ECOWAS. This is unfortunate for the military since the whole reason they likely went through the pretext of making it all seem constitutional was to get the AU's blessing. The AU now imposes sanctions on countries where overt military coups occur. Fortunately, the continental body did not seem fooled by this charade.

Conspiracy theorists will surely wonder if Eyadema, rumored ill for a long time, actually died yesterday or if the announcement was withheld a few days, Kremlin style, to be conviently timed with the speaker's absence from the country.


At 2:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

kremlin style? Why not? Having been in Togo , years ago, when they did one of their border closures I'd believe just about anything about the Togolese "powers that be".


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