By Dwayne Omowale (dailykos)
Since August of last year the people of Togo have been protesting for an end to fifty-one years of being ruled by the same dictatorship. Eyadema Gnassingbe came to power in a military coup in 1967. He remained in power until his death in 2005 and since then his son Faure has been in power. During the five decades that this single family has ruled Togo, Togo has been one of the poorest and most miserable countries in the world. Human rights abuses have also been rampant in Togo during the five decades that this family has been in power. This has included the torture of political prisoners.
One of the issues that the people of Togo face in their protests—and this is an issue that many African nations face—is the lack of international support. In fact, the international support has been for the regime that has been brutalizing the Togolese people. Eyadema was invited to the White House to meet President George H.W. Bush and when he died he was described as as being a “close personal friend” by President Chirac of France. Faure has also enjoyed these same ties to these countries. Faure met President Obama at the White House. Faure also enjoys the support of France as well. It is for this very reason that the Federation of Afrikan Liberation, which is a U.S. based Pan-African organization, has been calling for a boycott of French products.
The Western support that Faure enjoys and the lack of support that the Togolese people are receiving help to highlight the hypocrisy of Western foreign policy in Africa. In an interview in which President Obama discussed governance in Africa, he explained: “I think part of what’s hampered advancement in Africa is that for many years we’ve made excuses about corruption or poor governance; that this was somehow the consequence of neo-colonialism, or the West has been oppressive, or racism. I’m not a believer in excuses.” The reality is that corruption and poor governance continued to be rewarded by countries like the United States, which continue to support oppressive dictators like Faure. Those who do stand up against corruption and poor governance, especially in Togo, either find themselves being imprisoned, tortured, and killed; or forced into hiding from the regime. Worst of all is that those who are fighting for change in Togo cannot rely on support from the West. As much backlash as Donald Trump has received for his praise of the dictatorship in North Korea, the reality is that America actually has a long history of supporting dictators. Togo is but one example of that.
Dwayne is the author of Faure Must Go