Sunday, March 19, 2006

Like father, like son

The small West African state of Togo is one of those countries, like the DR Congo and Syria, known as a monarchical republic. Togo was in the news last year when Gnassingbé II (offically known as Faure Gnassingbé) succeeded his father Gnassingbé I (Gnassingbé Éyadéma) as emperor of the so-called republic. He held sham elections which purported to validate his ascension to the throne but Togo has been forgotten by the international press since.

When he died, Gnassingbé I was Africa's longest serving head of state, having run Togo with an iron fist for 38 years. Apparently, Gnassingbé II has adopted some of his father's more muscular tactics.

Recently, his regime threatened Harry Olympio, one of the country's opposition leaders, for his alleged role in an attack on police headquarters last month. Or perhaps I should say, in an alleged attack on police headquarters.

"The security forces are on the look out for Harry Olympio," Lome State Prosecutor Robert Boubadi Bakai told reporters on Monday, reported the BBC.

Olympio's cousin Gilchrist heads another party and is the most prominent opposition leader.

There is long emnity between the two families. Gnassingbé I is widely believed to have personally murdered Gilchrist's father, Sylvanus Olympio, who was Togo's first president.

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