Togo: Africa’s longest dynasty to extend rule

The Togolese ruling party, Union pour la Republique, has chosen incumbent President Faure Gnassingbé as its candidate for elections next month.

Togo has been ruled for the past 50 years by the Gnassingbé family, Africa’s most enduring political dynasty. Nearly 95% of Togolese have spent their entire lives ruled by members of the same family.

The incumbent president was voted into power in a disputed election in 2005 – taking over from his late father Gnassingbé Eyadéma, who had been president for 38 years.

More than 400 people died in violence during that election, according to a UN inquiry, although the government said the death toll was lower.

With the opposition divided between multiple candidates, Gnassingbé is widely seen as favorite to win next month’s poll.

Last year, Togo’s parliament has approved a constitutional change permitting Faure Gnassingbé to potentially stay in office until 2030.

The amendment caps the presidential mandate to two five-year terms but does not apply retrospectively, meaning Gnassingbe can stand for two elections, 2020 and 2025, despite having already served three terms.

Another change passed by the National Assembly guaranteed immunity for life to all former presidents, who, the new constitutional terms say, cannot be “prosecuted, arrested, detained, or tried for acts committed during their presidential term”.

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