The small country of Togo has been ruled by a single family for over 50 years. After Sergeant Etienne Eyadéma Gnassingbé overthrew Sylvanus Olympio from power in 1963, and also toppled Nicolas Grunitzky four years later, Eyadéma took over as head of state. This was the beginning of a long rule.
After ruling for 38 years,Eyadéma died in 2005 and was replaced by his son Faure Gnassingbé a move supported by France, and African leaders like Olusegun Obasanjo and Senegal’s Abdoulaye Wade.
The opposition party, the Togolese Pan African National Party organized large protests against Gnassingbé. The protests took place in the capital Lome and another city, Sokode as well as in Ghana. The demonstrations, which have come to be known as the anti- Gnassingbé protests saw large numbers of people participate, many of them wearing red.
The protesters have demanded for the return of the 1992 constitution, which allows for multiparty democracy with a limited presidential term of office. The protester’s constant chant was, “50 years is too long.”
— Farida Bemba Nabourema (@Farida_N) August 19, 2017
Many francophone countries on the continent have found themselves in the position of having dictators backed by France. Despite the track record of human rights abuses in these countries, their colonial masters maintain a tight hold on these countries, mostly for financial gain. Unlike many Anglophone nations that are more ‘independent’ from their former colonial masters, the francophone nations find themselves in a peculiar bondage.
Whether Togo’s large protests would spark a similar reaction in countries such as Cameroon, and Congo is yet to be known. The clamour for a more democratic institution rages more in former French colonies. Similar actions took place in Burkina Faso in 2014 when protesters set the parliament on fire, and toppled the government of Blaise Compaore.
During the protests in Togo, seven soldiers were arrested by the protesters but were eventually let free. The opposition party is determined to continue protesting till the Gnassingbé dynasty is brought down.
— Farida Bemba Nabourema (@Farida_N) August 21, 2017