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1967-2005 - Gnassingbe Eyadema

On January 13, 1967, Lt. Col. Etienne Eyadema (later Gen. Gnassingbe Eyadema) ousted President Grunitzky in a bloodless military coup. Political parties were banned, and all constitutional processes were suspended. The committee of national reconciliation ruled the country until April 14, when Eyadema assumed the presidency. In late 1969, a single national political party, the Rally of the Togolese People (RPT), was created, and President Eyadema was elected party president on November 29, 1969. In 1972, a national referendum, in which Eyadema ran unopposed, confirmed his role as the country's president.

In late 1979, Eyadema declared a third republic and a transition to greater civilian rule with a mixed civilian and military cabinet. He garnered 99.97% of the vote in uncontested presidential elections held in late 1979 and early 1980. A new constitution also provided for a national assembly to serve primarily as a consultative body. On September 23, 1986, a group of some 70 armed Togolese dissidents crossed into Lome from Ghana in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Eyadema government. However, this failed and in December Eyadema was reelected to a third consecutive 7-year term with 99.5% of the vote in an uncontested election.

Until the early 1990s Togo was a one party state. In 1989 and 1990, Togo, like many other countries, was affected by the winds of democratic change sweeping eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. On October 5, 1990, the trial of students for distributing antigovernment tracts sparked riots in Lome. Antigovernment demonstrations and violent clashes with the security forces marked the months that followed. However in 1990, opponents to Eyadema's rule, encouraged by international events, openly contested his rule. In April 1991, the government began negotiations with newly formed opposition groups and agreed to a general amnesty that permitted exiled political opponents to return to Togo. This led to the convening of a 'National Forum' in June 1991. After a general strike and further demonstrations, on June 12, 1991, the government and opposition signed an agreement to hold a "national forum".

The national forum, dominated by opponents of President Eyadema, opened in July 1991 and immediately declared itself to be a sovereign "National Conference." Although subjected to severe harassment from the government, the conference drafted an interim constitution calling for a 1-year transitional regime tasked with organizing free elections for a new government. The conference selected Joseph Kokou Koffigoh, a lawyer and human rights leader, as transitional prime minister but kept President Eyadema as chief of state for the transition, although with limited powers.

Eyadema was forced to accept a new government which emerged from this conference in August 1991. A new constitution, which was eventually passed by referendum in September 1991, officially brought to an end Eyadema's one party state, and paved the way for Presidential elections and elections to the 81-seat unicameral legislature in 1993 and 1994 respectively.

However, during the long and extremely tense transition the opposition were divided as to whether and how far to cooperate with Eyadema. A test of wills between the president and his opponents followed over the next 3 years during which President Eyadema gradually gained the upper hand. Frequent political paralysis and intermittent violence marked this period. Following a vote by the transitional legislature (High Council of the Republic) to dissolve the President's political party--the RPT--in November 1991, the army attacked the prime minister's office on December 3 and captured the prime minister. Koffigoh then formed a second transition government in January 1992 with substantial participation by ministers from the President's party. Opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio, son of the slain president Sylvanus Olympio, was ambushed and seriously wounded, apparently by soldiers, on May 5, 1992.

In July and August 1992, a commission composed of presidential and opposition representatives negotiated a new political agreement. On September 27, the public overwhelmingly approved the text of a new, democratic constitution, formally initiating Togo's fourth republic. However, the democratic process was set back in October 1992, when elements of the army held the interim legislature hostage for 24 hours, effectively ending the interim legislature. In retaliation, on November 16, opposition political parties and labor unions declared a general strike intended to force President Eyadema to agree to satisfactory conditions for elections. The general strike largely shut down Lome for months and resulted in severe damage to the economy.

In January 1993, President Eyadema declared the transition at an end and reappointed Koffigoh as prime minister under Eyadema's authority. This set off public demonstrations, and, on January 25, members of the security forces fired on peaceful demonstrators, killing at least 19. In the ensuing days, several security force members were waylaid and injured or killed by civilian oppositionists. On March 25, 1993, armed Togolese dissident commandos based in Ghana attacked Lome's main military camp and tried unsuccessfully to kill President Eyadema. They inflicted significant casualties, however, which set off lethal reprisals by the military against soldiers thought to be associated with the attackers.

Under substantial domestic and foreign pressure and the burden of the ongoing general strike, the presidential faction entered negotiations with the opposition. Four rounds of talks led to the July 11, 1993 Ouagadougou agreement, which set forth conditions for upcoming presidential and legislative elections and ended the general strike as of August 3, 1993. The presidential elections were set for August 25, but hasty and inadequate technical preparations, concerns about fraud, and the lack of effective campaign organization by the opposition led the chief opposition candidates--former minister and Organization of African Unity (OAU) Secretary General Edem Kodjo and lawyer Yawovi Agboyibo--to drop out of the race before election day and to call for a boycott. The elections of 1993 were boycotted by the main opposition parties, who cited concerns about fraud. The main opposition candidate, Gilchrist Olympio, was barred from standing. President Eyadema won the elections by a 96.42% vote against token opposition. About 36% of the voters went to the polls; the others boycotted.

Ghana-based armed dissidents launched a new commando attack on military sites in Lome in January 1994. President Eyadema was unhurt, and the attack and subsequent reaction by the Togolese armed forces, including an 8-hour rampage in Lome, resulted in hundreds of deaths, mostly civilian. This provoked more than 300,000 Togolese to flee Lome for Benin, Ghana, or the interior of Togo. Most had returned by early 1996.

The government went ahead with legislative elections in February 1994. Although the opposition fared well in the legislative elections in February 1994, Eyadema had effectively won the prolonged transitional struggle. In generally free and fair polls as witnessed by international observers, the allied opposition parties UTD and Action Committee for Renewal (CAR) together won a narrow majority in the National Assembly. On April 22, President Eyadema named Edem Kodjo, the head of the smaller opposition party, the UTD, as prime minister instead of Yawovi Agboyibo, whose CAR party had far more seats. Kodjo's acceptance of the post of prime minister provoked the CAR to break the opposition alliance and refuse to join the Kodjo government.

Over the next 11 years the situation fluctuated between periods of relative openness, characterised by negotiations between the government and the opposition, and periods of tension, generally around contested electoral processes.

Kodjo was then forced to form a governing coalition with the RPT. Kodjo's government emphasized economic recovery, building democratic institutions and the rule of law and the return of Togolese refugees abroad. In early 1995, the government made slow progress toward its goals, aided by the CAR's August 1995 decision to end a 9-month boycott of the National Assembly. However, Kodjo was forced to reshuffle his government in late 1995, strengthening the representation by Eyadema's RPT party, and he resigned in August 1996. Eyadema reemerged with a sure grip on power, controlling most aspects of government.

In the June 1998 presidential election, the government prevented citizens from effectively exercising the right to vote. The Interior Ministry declared Eyadema the winner with 52% of the vote in the 1998 election; however, serious irregularities in the government's conduct of the election strongly favored the incumbent and appear to have affected the outcome materially.

Before the final results could be independently confirmed the government halted the counting process, dismissed the election commission, and declared Eyadema the winner with 52 percent of the vote.

Although the government did not obstruct the functioning of political opponents openly, the President used the strength of the military and his government allies to intimidate and harass citizens and opposition groups. The government and the state remained highly centralized: President Eyadema's national government appointed the officials and controlled the budgets of all subnational government entities, including prefectures and municipalities, and influenced the selection of traditional chiefs.

In response, the EU renewed its suspension of aid to Togo, while the U.S. issued critical statements and scaled back its presence. A combination of domestic and international pressure led Togolese political leaders to undertake an internationally facilitated series of negotiations aimed at normalizing the countrys political climate after the 1998 election. In July 1999, Eyadema and six opposition leaders signed the Accord Cadre de Lom (ACL) The Lom Framework Agreement, which created structures and processes for resolving the countrys political disputes and eventually lifting international sanctions.

The second multi-party legislative elections of Eyadema's 33-year rule were held on March 21, 1999. However, the opposition boycotted the election, in which the ruling party won 79 of the 81 seats in the National Assembly. The remaining two seats went to candidates from little-known independent parties. Procedural problems and significant fraud, particularly misrepresentation of voter turnout, marred the legislative elections.

After the legislative election, the government announced that it would continue to pursue dialog with the opposition. In July 1999, the government and the opposition began discussions, and on July 29, 1999, all sides signed an accord called the "Lome Framework Agreement," which included a pledge by President Eyadema that he would respect the constitution and not seek another term as president after his current one expired in 2003. The accord also called for the negotiation of a legal status for opposition leaders, as well as for former heads of state (such as their immunity from prosecution for acts in office). In addition, the accord addressed the rights and duties of political parties and the media, the safe return of refugees, and the security of all citizens. The accord also contained a provision for compensating victims of political violence.

The President agreed to dissolve the National Assembly in March and hold new legislative elections, which would be supervised by an Independent National Election Commission (CENI) and which would use the single-ballot method to protect against some of the abuses of past elections. However, the March 2000 date passed without presidential action, and new legislative elections were ultimately rescheduled for October 2001. Because of funding problems and disagreements between the government and opposition, the elections were again delayed, this time until 2002.

In May 2002 the government scrapped the CENI and appointed seven magistrates to oversee preparations for legislative elections. Not surprisingly, the opposition announced it would boycott them. The elections were held in October and the government party won more than two-thirds of the seats in the National Assembly. In December 2002, Eyadema's government used this rubber-stamp parliament to amend Togo's constitution, allowing President Eyadema to run for an "unlimited" number of terms.

A further amendment stated that candidates must reside in the country for at least 12 months before an election, a provision that barred the participation in the upcoming presidential election of popular Union des Forces du Changement (UFC) candidate, Gilchrist Olympio, son of Sylvanus Olympio], who had been in exile since 1992. The presidential election was held June 1, 2003. President Eyadema was re-elected with 57% of the votes, amid allegations of widespread vote rigging.

On April 14, 2004, the Government of Togo signed an agreement with the European Union (EU) that included 22 commitments the Government of Togo must honor as a precondition for resumption of EU aid. Two of the most important of these commitments were a constructive national dialogue between the Government of Togo and the traditional opposition parties and free and democratic legislative elections.

By November 2004, Togo had made modest progress on some commitments, releasing 500 prisoners, removing prison sentences from most provisions of the Press Code, and initiating a dialogue with the core opposition parties. Consultations were ongoing with the European Union with regard to when and how to resume development cooperation.

On February 5, 2005 President Gnassingbe Eyadema died. He died, it is believed of a heart attack, on board an aircraft taking him for emergency treatment. In an unconstitutional move, the military leadership swore in Faure Gnassingbe, the late President Eyadema's son, as president.

A Special Fund for the Compensation of Victims of Political Violence in Togo was established 23 arch 2017, with a decree adopted in the Council of Ministers. This Fund will be managed by the Office of the High Commissioner for Reconciliation and Strengthening National Unity (HCCRUN). The Special Fund, which is initially financed by State resources, will initially provide a credit of CFAF 2 billion and will enable HCCRUN to initiate the program of compensation for damages suffered by victims of political violence between 1958 and 2005. This first phase of the program takes into account victims in situations of vulnerability and those whose compensation may be borne by this first allowance. The government welcomed this initiative 'which materializes the will of the Head of State to make the national reconciliation the base of the best living together.'

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