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Republic, western Africa.

Area: 21,925 sq mi (56,785 sq km). Population (2008 est.): 6,762,000. Capital: Lomé. It has some 30 ethnic groups; the Ewe is the largest. Languages: French (official), Ewe, other indigenous languages. Religions: Christianity (mostly Roman Catholic), traditional beliefs, Islam. Currency: CFA franc. Togo occupies a strip of land about 70 mi (115 km) wide that extends about 320 mi (515 km) inland from the Gulf of Guinea. Regions include a swampy coastal plain, a northern savanna, and a central mountain range. The developing economy is based largely on agriculture. Chief crops are cassava (manioc), yams, corn (maize), cotton, coffee, and cacao. It is one of the world’s leading producers of phosphates; food products, beverages, and cement are also important. Togo is a republic with one legislative house; its chief of state is the president, supported by the military, and the head of government is the prime minister. Until 1884 what is now Togo was an intermediate zone between the states of Asante and Dahomey, and its various ethnic groups lived in general isolation from each other. In 1884 it became part of the Togoland German protectorate, which was occupied by British and French forces in 1914. In 1922 the League of Nations assigned eastern Togoland to France and the western portion to Britain. In 1946 the British and French governments placed the territories under UN trusteeship. Ten years later British Togoland was incorporated into the Gold Coast, and French Togoland became an autonomous republic within the French Union. Togo gained independence in 1960. It suspended its constitution from 1967 to 1980. A constitution providing for multiparty government was approved in 1992, but the political situation remained unstable.

Official name République Togolaise (Togolese Republic)
Form of government multiparty republic1 with one legislative body (National Assembly [81])
Head of state and government President assisted by Prime Minister
Capital Lomé
Official language French
Official religion none
Monetary unit CFA franc (CFAF)
Population estimate (2008) 6,762,000
Total area (sq mi) 21,925
Total area (sq km) 56,785
1Transitional government ended with October 2007 elections.


country of western Africa. Lomé, the capital, is situated in the southwest of the country and is the largest city and port.

Until 1884 what is now Togo was an intermediate zone between the states of Asante and Dahomey, and its various ethnic groups lived in general isolation from each other. In 1884 it became part of the Togoland German protectorate, which was occupied by British and French forces in 1914. In 1922 the League of Nations assigned eastern Togoland to France and the western portion to Britain. In 1946 the British and French governments placed the territories under United Nations trusteeship (see Trusteeship Council). Ten years later British Togoland was incorporated into the Gold Coast, and French Togoland became an autonomous republic within the French Union. Togo gained independence in 1960. The economy rests largely on agriculture, although the country’s extensive phosphate reserves are also significant.

From its 32-mile (51-km) coastline on the Gulf of Guinea, Togo extends northward for about 320 miles (515 km) between Ghana to the west and Benin to the east to its boundary with Burkina Faso in the north.

Relief, drainage, and soils
Togo consists of six geographic regions. The low-lying, sandy beaches of the narrow coastal region are backed by tidal flats and shallow lagoons, the largest of which is Lake Togo. Beyond the coast lies the Ouatchi Plateau, which stretches about 20 miles (32 km) inland at an elevation of some 200 to 300 feet (60 to 90 metres). This is the region of the so-called terre de barre, a lateritic (reddish, leached, iron-bearing) soil.

Northeast of the plateau is a tableland, the highest elevations reaching 1,300 to 1,500 feet (400 to 460 metres). This region is drained by the Mono River and its tributaries, including the Ogou, and other smaller rivers. West and southwest of the tableland the terrain gradually rises toward the Togo Mountains, which run across central Togo from the south-southwest to the north-northeast. Part of a chain that begins in the Atakora Mountains of Benin, the range ends in the Akwapim Hills of Ghana (see Akwapim-Togo ranges). Mount Agou (Baumann Peak), which rises to about 3,235 feet (986 metres), is the highest mountain in Togo. Beyond the Togo Mountains to the north lies the Oti River sandstone plateau. This is a savanna region drained by the Oti River, one of the main tributaries of the Volta. To the far northwest is a higher region of granite and gneiss; the cliffs of Dapaong (Dapango) are located in this region.

Togo has a tropical climate. In the south the rainy seasons occur from mid-April through June and from mid-September through October. The narrow coastal zone, which receives about 35 inches (890 mm) of precipitation annually, is the driest region. The area near Palimé, about 65 miles (100 km) inland, receives the highest amount of precipitation—about 70 inches (1,800 mm) annually. The north has only one rainy season, when precipitation averages about 45 inches (1,150 mm), mostly falling from June to the end of September; during the rest of the year the warm, dry harmattan (a dust-laden wind) predominates. Mean annual temperatures vary from the high 70s F (mid-20s C) along the coast and in the mountains to the low 80s F (high 20s C) on the northern plateau. Daily minimum temperatures reaching the high 60s F (low 20s C) are recorded in the mountains in August. Daily maxima in the low 100s F (high 30s C) occur in the north during March and April at the end of the long dry season.

Plant and animal life
Savanna-type vegetation is predominant in Togo. On the southern plateaus large trees, including the baobab, are common, but they are rare in the north. The southwestern highland regions are covered with tropical forests, also found along the river valleys. The coastal zone is dotted with mangrove and reed swamps.

Wild animals are not found in great numbers, especially in the southern and central regions. A few lions, leopards, and elephants can be seen in the north. Monkeys, snakes, and lizards are numerous in many areas, and crocodiles and hippopotamuses abound in the rivers. In the Keran Forest Reserve near Sansanné-Mango in the north, there are wild herds of buffalo, asses, warthogs, antelope, and deer. Numerous species of birds and insects are found in the country. Fish caught off the coast include mackerel, bass, seabream, red snapper, triggerfish, dorado, ray, and sole, while crustaceans include shrimp and lobster.

Ethnic groups and languages
The population of Togo is made up of about 30 ethnic groups, many of whom are immigrants from other parts of western Africa. The groups indigenous to Togo live in the north and southwest. The northern groups include the following Gur-speaking peoples: the Gurma; the Natimba, Dye, and Konkomba; the Tamberma; the Basari; the Moba; the Losso (Naudem); the Kabre and Logba; and the Lamba (Namba); a small number of Atlantic-speaking Fulani; and the Kebu (Akebu). In the southwest the indigenous Kwa peoples also belonging to the central Togo group are the Kposo (Akposso), the Adele, and the Ahlo.

The Ewe, who emigrated from Nigeria between the 14th and 16th century, form the major ethnic group. There are also some scattered Yoruba, mainly Ana. Groups who emigrated from present-day Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire since the 17th century include the Mina (Ga and Ané), the Ga-Dangme, the Kpelle and the Anyama, the Chakosi, and the Dagomba. The northern groups—the Kotokoli (or Temba), Gurma, and Mossi—entered mainly from Burkina Faso.

Most of the country’s non-Africans—the majority of whom are French—live in Lomé. Brazilians, or Portuguese of Brazilian birth, constituted the original trading settlement in Togo, and today African-Brazilians are closely associated with economic and political development.

The official language is French, although it is not widely spoken outside of business and government. Widely spoken indigenous languages belong to the Niger-Congo language family and include Ewe in the south and Kabiye in the north.

Almost half of the population is Christian, many of whom are Roman Catholic, although there are also substantial Protestant, independent, and other Christian communities. Since independence, the Roman Catholic Church in Togo has been headed by a Togolese archbishop. The main Protestant (Calvinist) church has been governed for a long time by Togolese moderators.

About one-third of Togo’s population adhere to various ancestral forms of belief, including Yoruba-based sects associated with vodou (voodoo). More than one-tenth of the population is Muslim.

Settlement patterns
The majority of Togo’s population lives in small villages scattered throughout the rural areas. Lomé, the largest urban centre, is spread along the coast. At its centre, there is a mixture of old and new commercial and administrative buildings. Aného (Anécho), another coastal town, was once the country’s leading European trade centre but is now declining. Other main towns include Tsévié and Tabligbo in the lowland plateau; Kpalimé, Atakpamé, Sokodé, Bassar (Bassari), and Kara (Lama-Kara) at the base of the Togo Mountains; and Sansanné-Mango (Mango) and Dapaong in the far north.

Demographic trends
Togo’s population is growing at a rate slightly higher than the sub-Saharan African average and well above the global average. Like other countries in the region, its birth rate is high; by contrast, however, its death rate is relatively low. On the whole, the Togolese population is quite young: more than two-fifths of the population are younger than age 15, and some three-fourths of the population are age 29 or younger. Although well below the global average, the life expectancy for both men and women is nevertheless higher than the average for sub-Saharan Africa.

Among the smallest countries in Africa, Togo enjoys one of the highest standards of living on the continent owing to its valuable phosphate deposits and a well-developed export sector based on agricultural products such as coffee, cocoa beans, and peanuts (groundnuts). Low market prices for Togo’s major export commodities, however, coupled with the volatile political situation of the 1990s and early 2000s, had a negative effect on the economy.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
The variety of soils and climates enables Togo to grow a wide range of products. A large proportion of the population is engaged in agricultural pursuits, many of which are subsistence-based; agricultural products also factor prominently in the Togolese foreign exchange income. Staple crops include corn (maize), cassava (manioc), rice, yams, sorghum, millet, and peanuts; export crops include cocoa beans (harvested from cacao trees), coffee, shea nuts, cotton, and palm kernels. Prior to 1996 a government agency, the Office of Agricultural Products of Togo, held a monopoly on the foreign sale of Togolese products. Since then government policy has shifted toward encouraging increased cooperation between the public and private sectors.

Cattle, sheep, and pigs are raised in the plateau region and the north. Fishing is carried out on the coast and in the well-stocked inland rivers and ponds. Most of the catch is consumed locally. Forests cover less than one-tenth of Togo’s total area; heavy rates of deforestation—due in large part to slash-and-burn agriculture and the need for wood fuel—have greatly diminished the proportion of Togo’s wooded area, particularly in the early 2000s.

Resources and power
Mining and quarrying dominate industry in Togo. Phosphate is the major mineral resource and one of the country’s leading export items. Deposits include those at Hahoetoé and Kpogamé, directly northeast of Lomé in the south of the country. Togo is one of the world’s largest phosphate producers. Togo’s considerable limestone reserves, also mined near Lomé, are utilized primarily for cement production. Togo also has substantial marble deposits.

Other mineral resources with commercial potential include iron ore, bauxite, uranium, chromite (an oxide of iron and chromium), gold, diamonds, rutile (titanium dioxide), manganese oxide, and kaolin (china clay). While the iron ore reserves are large, the metal content is only slightly more than 50 percent. The bauxite has a low mineral content.

More than three-fifths of the electricity generated in Togo is hydroelectric, although petroleum is also an important source of energy. In addition to electricity from domestic sources, Togo imports energy from neighbouring countries to meet demand.

The Togolese manufacturing sector is relatively small. Manufacturing in the past centred on the processing of agricultural commodities and the import substitution of consumer goods (textiles, footwear, beverages, and tires). In the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, major investments in heavy industrial schemes included a cement plant, a petroleum refinery, a steelworks, and a phosphoric acid plant, but some of these have since closed down. Several industrial free zones have been established in Togo, including that at Lomé.

Finance and trade
Togo’s currency is the CFA franc, which has been officially pegged to the euro since 2002. Currency is issued by the Central Bank of West African States, an agency of the West African Economic and Monetary Union, consisting of eight countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo) that were once French colonies in Africa.

Imports include mineral fuels, food, construction materials, machinery, transport equipment, pharmaceuticals, and paper products. Low customs duties have encouraged significant smuggling of imported consumer goods to neighbouring countries with higher tariffs, especially Ghana. Aside from phosphate and agricultural products, which account for a large proportion of Togolese export earnings, some iron and steel and cement are exported. Togo’s main trading partners are France, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Ghana.

The services sector accounts for more than two-fifths of the gross domestic product. Conflict in the 1990s and early 2000s disrupted the service industry, including tourism, which was a significant source of foreign revenue before that time.

Labour and taxation
More than half the labour force works in the agricultural sector, which meets the majority of the population’s food requirements and produces agricultural commodities, such as cotton, for export. Most Togolese workers are permitted to participate in union activity and to strike; government health workers may not strike, and security forces may neither strike nor form unions.

Indirect taxes, almost entirely on imports and exports, account for most of the government’s ordinary budget revenues. Direct taxes consist of an income tax, a progressive tax on all profits, taxes on wages paid by employers, a tax on rental values and land, and head taxes.

Three main road systems include the scenic coastal road between Ghana and Benin; the road from Lomé north to Burkina Faso; and roads serving the cacao- and coffee-producing area of Kpalimé, Badou, and Atakpamé. Some one-third of the country’s roadways are paved.

The national railway provides service on a number of lines that emanate from Lomé. One line connects Kpalimé with the capital; other lines run to Aného, Tabligbo, and Blitta.

Lomé is Togo’s principal port and has been an important transit point for a number of Togo’s landlocked neighbours. Its artificial harbour was inaugurated in 1968. A second port is located at Kpémé, about 22 miles (35 km) northeast of Lomé, and is used to handle phosphate shipments.

The international airport at Tokoin (near Lomé) links Togo with European and other African countries. A second international airport is located at Niamtougou in the north. Local airports include those at Atakpamé, Sokodé, Sansanné-Mango, and Dapaong.

Government and society
Constitutional framework
The military coup d’état of 1967 abolished the constitution of 1963 and dissolved the National Assembly. A new constitution in 1992 established the president as head of state and a directly elected multiparty National Assembly, members of which serve five-year terms. The president, who is elected by direct universal suffrage for a term that also lasts five years, appoints the prime minister from the parliament majority. In 2002 a two-term limit on the presidency was abolished.

Local government
The country is divided into five régions—Maritime, Plateaux, Centrale, Kara, and Savanes—for the purposes of economic planning. The five régions are subdivided into préfectures, each of which is headed by a district chief assisted by a district council.

The local administrative apparatus is complemented by traditional authorities, which include traditional ethnic kings or chiefs, village chiefs, and heads of family groups. These traditional authorities play a role in the judicial system, dealing with certain questions of customary law. The judicial system is headed by a Supreme Court and consists of a number of law courts in which civil, commercial, administrative, and criminal cases are heard.

Political process
Suffrage is universal. Various ethnic groups participate in the government, and political parties often have distinct ethnic affiliations. Women hold some senior government positions and seats in the National Assembly, though they are not widely represented. Togo had been ruled since 1969 by the Rally of the Togolese People, which was the sole political party until 1991 when parties were legalized. Since that time, numerous political parties have been formed. Important among these are the Union of Forces of Change and the Action Committee for Renewal.

The Togolese armed forces are composed of ground forces, a navy, an air force, and a gendarmerie. Individuals are eligible for selective compulsory and voluntary military service at age 18, and obligations last for two years.

In urban areas such as Lomé, the traditional housing unit is a big walled compound composed of a group of isolated rooms, each opening onto a courtyard. Rural housing differs throughout the country. A common sight along the coast is the rectangular houses built either of clay and timber or of coconut or palm branches and topped by double-eaved thatched roofs. Scattered throughout the coconut plantations, they are not far from the beaches. Inland in the south, thatched rectangular huts made of adobe are clustered around big trees and surrounded by earthen walls or fences made of palm branches. In the north, the traditional adobe or stone huts are circular and are topped by conical roofs or thatched turrets. They are usually gathered in units corresponding to family groups; often enclosed by earthen walls, they are sometimes interlinked. The houses of the Koutammakou region in the northeast, inhabited by the Batammariba, are one such example; they have been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site for their cultural value. Distinctive of the northern Kara region is the high density of villages that stretch along the highway or climb up the slopes of the many hills.

Education is modeled after the French system. Primary education, which begins at six years of age and lasts for six years, is technically compulsory. Secondary education begins at 12 years of age and is made up of two cycles of four and three years, respectively. Both primary and secondary education are provided by public or parochial schools.

The University of Lomé (founded in 1970) provides French-language instruction and has schools of humanities and science and a university institute of technology. The University of Kara (founded in 1974) offers instruction in a range of faculties, including arts and humanities and law and politics. A school of architecture and town planning, also at Lomé, was founded in 1975 by the African and Mauritian Common Organization.

Cultural life
Like other African peoples, the Togolese have a strong oral tradition. Little has been done, however, to promote vernacular literature. Before independence there were a few Togolese writers using French. Since independence, regional (especially Ewe) literature emerged with the works of several novelists and playwrights. Founded in 1967, the African Ballet of Togo has aimed at popularizing the finest traditional dances. The country’s national archives and national library are centred in Lomé.

Holidays observed in Togo include those celebrated by the Christian population, such as Easter, Assumption, Whitmonday, All Saints’ Day, and Christmas. The country’s Muslim community observes ʿĪd al-Fiṭr, which marks the end of Ramadan, and ʿĪd al-Aḍḥā, which marks the culmination of the hajj rites. Other holidays include Liberation Day (January 13), which commemorates the anniversary of the coup of 1967; Independence Day (April 27); and the anniversary of the failed attack by dissidents on Lomé in 1986, observed on September 23.

Sports and recreation
Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Togo, and the country has enjoyed international success. Togolese also enjoy boxing. In the late 1990s super middleweight Zafrou Balloqou was ranked in the world’s top 10, and Yacoubou Moutakilou and Abdoukerin Hamidou also have found success in the ring. The country competes internationally in tennis and in African Traditional Wrestling as well. Standout tennis players include Komi and Gérard Loglo, who represented the country at the 1999 Davis Cup. Togo has largely been represented only by men in international sporting events, and in 1998 a seminar was held on the promotion of women in Togolese sports.

In 1963 Togo founded an Olympic committee, which was recognized by the International Olympic Committee two years later. The country made its Olympic debut at the 1972 Munich Games. The country claimed its first Olympic medal at the 2008 Beijing Games when Benjamin Boukpeti placed third in the men’s kayak event.

Media and publishing
Although the constitution provides for freedom of speech, in practice that right is restricted, and journalists often exercise self-censorship. Radio is a popular media format, particularly in rural areas. In addition to state-controlled stations, a variety of private stations are in operation, with broadcasts in English, French, and a number of local languages. Television broadcasts are limited and are mainly state-controlled.

Notable publications include Togo-Presse, the state publication, and a variety of pro-opposition weeklies, including Carrefour, Le Combat du Peuple, Le Crocodile, Motion d’Information, and Le Regard, all of which were founded in the 1990s.

Macaire K. Pedanou
Samuel Decalo



This discussion focuses on the history of Togo since the 19th century. For a more complete treatment of the country in its regional context, see western Africa, history of.

Until 1884 Togoland was an indeterminate buffer zone between the warring states of Asante and Dahomey. The only port was Petit Popo (Anécho, or Aného). Throughout the 18th century the Togo portion of the Slave Coast was held by the Danes.

German occupation
German missionaries arrived in Ewe territory in 1847, and German traders were soon established at Anécho. In 1884 Gustav Nachtigal, sent by the German government, induced a number of coastal chiefs to accept German protection. The protectorate was recognized in 1885, and its coastal frontiers with Dahomey and the Gold Coast were defined by treaties with France and Great Britain. German military expeditions (1888–97) met with little resistance, securing a hinterland the boundaries of which also were determined by treaties with France (1897) and Great Britain (1899).

Lomé, at the western end of the coast, was selected as the colonial capital in 1897, a modern town was laid out, and in 1904 a jetty was built. Three railways were constructed to open up the interior. Exploitation was confined to the coastal and central areas and was exclusively agricultural. Plantations were established both by the government and by private German corporations, but crop development was left mainly to the Togolese, assisted by agriculturists trained at a college in Nuatja (Notsé). Upwardly mobile Ewe were recruited into what was supposed to be Germany’s Musterkolonie (model colony). Trade was chiefly in palm products, rubber, cotton, and cocoa beans. German administration was efficient but marred by its harsh treatment of Africans and use of forced labour.

On Aug. 7, 1914, at the outset of World War I, British and French colonial troops from the Gold Coast and Dahomey invaded Togoland and on August 26 secured the unconditional surrender of the Germans. Thereafter the western part of the colony was administered by Britain, the eastern part by France. By an Anglo-French agreement of July 10, 1919, France secured the railway system and the whole coastline. After Germany renounced its sovereignty in the Treaty of Versailles, the League of Nations in 1922 issued mandates to Britain and France for the administration of their spheres.

League of Nations mandate
The northern part of the British-mandated territory was administered with the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast, the southern part with the Gold Coast Colony. Although the British administration built roads connecting its sphere with the road system of the Gold Coast, the bulk of the territory’s external trade passed over the railways of French Togo.

French Togo was administered by a commissioner assisted by a consultative executive council. When British Togo was attached to the Gold Coast, French Togo was formed into a distinct unit until 1934, when a kind of economic union was established with Dahomey; this was replaced in 1936 by a qualified integration with French West Africa that lasted 10 years. Agricultural development was pursued, and a planned settlement of the interior by the Kabre and other peoples was carried out. Peanut (groundnut) cultivation was introduced in the northern areas, and energetic action was taken against trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness).

After World War II French Togo sent a deputy to the French National Assembly, a counselor to the Assembly of the French Union, and two senators to the Council of the Republic. A representative assembly was concerned with internal affairs.

United Nations trusteeship
In 1946 the British and French governments placed their spheres of Togoland under United Nations (UN) trusteeship. After 1947 the Ewe people in southern Togoland represented to the Trusteeship Council that either their territories or the whole of Togoland should be brought under a common administration. These proposals were difficult to implement because Ewe also inhabited the southeastern part of the Gold Coast Colony and because not all the people of southern Togoland were Ewe. The British colony was also rapidly advancing toward self-government, and the incorporation of the northern part of the British sphere with the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast had reunited the Dagomba and Mamprusi kingdoms, both of which had been cut in two by the pre-1914 boundary. Following a plebiscite held under UN auspices on May 9, 1956, the British trust territory of Togoland was on December 13 incorporated into the Gold Coast (although in the southern districts of Ho and Kpandu the Ewe vote showed a two-to-one majority in favour of continued British trusteeship). The Gold Coast and Togoland together were renamed Ghana and achieved independence in 1957.

French Togoland became an autonomous republic within the French Union on Aug. 30, 1956. This status was confirmed (despite Ewe opposition) by a plebiscite held in October under French auspices. Nicolas Grunitzky was appointed premier. Following UN representations, elections in April 1958 favoured complete independence and rejected Grunitzky’s Togolese Progress Party in favour of Sylvanus Olympio’s Togolese National Unity Party. Togo became independent on April 27, 1960.

After the 1961 elections, which established a presidential form of government, Olympio became the first president. He maintained economic cooperation with France. Togo became a member of the Organization of African Unity (OAU, now the African Union) in 1963 and in 1965 subscribed to the renewed Joint African and Malagasy Organization, which provided for economic, political, and social cooperation among French-speaking African states.

Hubert Jules Deschamps
Samuel Decalo

Ghanaian pressure for the integration of Togo with Ghana was resisted by the Togolese and led to strained relations between the two republics, including a trade embargo imposed by Ghana. Olympio’s increasingly harsh rule and policy of fiscal austerity came to an end on Jan. 13, 1963. Having rejected petitions to integrate into the national army Togolese noncommissioned officers recently demobilized from France’s colonial armies, Olympio was shot at the gates of the U.S. embassy (while seeking sanctuary) by Sgt. Étienne Gnassingbé Eyadéma (later called Gnassingbé Eyadéma). Grunitzky was invited to return from exile and assume the presidency, and he was confirmed in office in subsequent elections that also created a new constitution and legislature. Most of the noncommissioned officers were integrated into an expanded army—many as commissioned officers.

Cabinet infighting, aggravated in the south by Ewe feelings that with Olympio’s assassination they had lost power to Grunitzky’s largely pro-northern administration, led to chronic instability. On Jan. 13, 1967, Eyadéma, then a lieutenant colonel and chief of staff, once again seized power and dissolved all political parties. Though relying primarily on the support of his kinsmen in the north and the largely northern-staffed army, Eyadéma’s rule was stabilized by a number of other factors. Phosphate exports dramatically improved the economic picture, allowing the regime to satisfy regional and ethnic interests and to begin the first serious effort at transforming the countryside. Meticulous ethnic balancing of the cabinet and an open-door economic policy further attracted support from prospering traders (and smugglers into Ghana), and by 1972 Eyadéma felt secure enough to seek popular legitimation via a presidential plebiscite. In 1974 the phosphate industry was nationalized, generating increased state revenues. On Dec. 30, 1979, the first legislative elections since 1967 were held under a new constitution that formally placed Togo under civilian, one-party rule headed by President Eyadéma and the Rally of the Togolese People. Legislative elections were held again in 1985.

Eyadéma’s power was overtly challenged on Sept. 23, 1986, when a group of armed dissidents entered the country from Ghana. The ensuing violent confrontation between the dissidents and Togolese authorities, largely centred in Lomé, ended after several hours and resulted in the deaths or arrests of most dissidents. Later that year, Eyadéma was elected to a second seven-year term with almost 100 percent of the vote. A commission was established in 1990 to draft a new constitution, which prompted the legalization of political parties in 1991 and the adoption of a democratic constitution in 1992. However, in the first multiparty elections in August 1993, Eyadéma was reelected president amid allegations of electoral fraud, and the same charges were leveled in 1998. Protests over the 1998 elections continued into 1999, affecting the legislative elections held that year, and instigated an independent inquiry by the UN and the OAU. Their joint report, issued in 2001, found that the government had systematically violated human rights during the 1998 presidential election. Eyadéma’s reelection in 2003 was again clouded by accusations of fraud; however, these claims were refuted by international observers.

Despite his long tenure, Eyadéma’s regime was not without its opponents. Most of these were Ewe from the south (including the self-exiled sons of Olympio) rebelling against the northerner Eyadéma and the cult of personality that progressively surrounded him. The opposition sponsored conspiracies to topple Eyadéma and was held responsible for a number of bombings in Lomé. Civil unrest, in the form of strikes and sometimes-violent demonstrations, plagued Eyadéma as well. The regime’s patronage base—and, by extension, its stability—was also undermined in the 1980s and ’90s by an economic downturn. Falling global prices for phosphates led to sharply lower state revenues, while growing corruption and massive expenditures on the bloated civil service and inefficient public enterprises strained the fiscal resources of the state. Togo’s costly government-owned industries were dismantled or privatized, and the country’s heavy national debt was often rescheduled. In 2004 the European Union agreed to resume the flow of monetary aid to Togo, which had been halted in 1993 as a protest against the poor governance and lack of democracy in the country, if Togo met specified criteria addressing such issues as election reform and the repeal of controversial press laws.

After Eyadéma’s unexpected death in February 2005, his son, Faure Gnassingbé, was hastily installed as president by the military—an action critics characterized as a coup. After weeks of international condemnation, Gnassingbé stepped down and a presidential election was held in April. He was declared the winner of that election, which was initially certified by some international observers as free and fair but later marred as reports of considerable fraud emerged. The opposition refused to immediately concede defeat, and hundreds of people were killed and thousands fled from the country in the violent post-election aftermath.

Dialogue between the government and the opposition—which had lapsed following the death of Eyadéma the previous year—resumed in 2006 and led, with opposition participation, to the formation of a transitional government. Legislative elections late the following year, in which the ruling party was victorious, were characterized as free and fair by international observers.

Samuel Decalo



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