Mar 07 2010

Togo’s democratic fallacy

Category: Uncategorized<ADMINNICENAME> @ 2:43 PM

Tiny Togo, a blessed sliver of territory sandwiched between Ghana and Benin in West Africa, has demonstrated once more that merely holding an election doesn’t deliver a democratic outcome. Even an election where the mechanics are sound and the process seemingly transparent, as a regional West African authority has pronounced.

Despite relative non-violence and procuedural transparency, Togo’s presidential election, held last week, highlights the problem of representative democracy in an Africa where incumbent presidents repeatedly win elections.

In the case of Togo, the son of the country’s late dictator “won” re-election, according to officials reports. The opposition put up six candidates against Faure Gnassingbe, thereby insuring his victory. Why did the Togolese not rally around a single candidate? Why did the international community not insist on such a show of unity? What kind of “democracy” re-electes the son of a dictator who ruled since the 1960s?

The answer: no democracy at all.

Togo was and remains a dictatorship.

Let’s set aside any speculation that Gnassingbe may have bribed opposition candidates into standing against him and thus fracturing the opposition. Let’s set aside the speculation that Gnassingbe manipualted the media, the courts, the election commission — indeed the entire official apparatus of the national government — to insure his victory.

The facts are unnecessary. Gnassingbe should not have been allowed to stand for re-election.

That his right to rule Togo was forfeited is not merely the result of biology. His father was not a monarch, and the younger Gnassingbe is not a king. Rather he is a failed president because of Togo’s miserable condition under his (lack of) leadership.

Five years of mis-rule, above else, should have disqualifed Gnassingbe from standing for re-election. And his victory, over a divided opposition, should be a prelude to the African Union’s refusal to recognize his new government.

Let Togo struggle for development without Faure Gnassingbe.

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