Political situation Encouraging reforms

Togo has been making progress on the road to democracy in recent years. Although there are still deficits in the fields of governance and human rights, some encouraging steps have been taken.

Voters in Togo at the 2013 parliamentary elections

Voters in Togo at the 2013 parliamentary elections

Voters in Togo at the 2013 parliamentary elections

The policy pursued by President Faure Gnassingbé, who has been in office since 2005, is geared towards development. The government is working to launch political and institutional reforms, improve key social areas such as education, health and infrastructure, and enhance the business climate.

The current national development plan (Plan national de développement 2018-2022) explicitly takes up the goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda and the Agenda 2063 of the African Union. Togo plays a stabilising role within West Africa and is working actively for close regional cooperation.

However, many dissenting voices consider that the government's reform programmes do not go far enough. There were nationwide protests in 2017 and 2018. Protesters' main demand was to limit the power of the president and to prevent Faure Gnassingbé from serving for a fourth term. With mediation efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a roadmap was drafted to overcome the crisis. In line with the agreement reached, parliamentary elections were held in December 2018, which were however boycotted by large sections of the opposition.

In May 2019, the parliament passed a constitutional reform which, among other things, limits the terms of the president and provides for a second round of voting in presidential elections if no candidate reaches an absolute majority in the first round.

In February 2020, Faure Gnassingbé was re-elected. He won 71 per cent of the vote in the first round.

Historical background

People have been living around the Gulf of Guinea for many centuries. However, the country now known as Togo was not established until the end of the 19th century. At the time, the German Empire made the territory a colony. The borders were defined by various colonial powers that were present in the region at the time. Following World War I, Togo was divided into French and British administrative zones. The British area in the west was integrated into Ghana in 1957, while the French-ruled region in the east became partially autonomous and then fully independent as the Republic of Togo in 1960. The population consists of more than 40 different ethnic groups.

In 1967, Gnassingbé Eyadéma seized power in a military coup. His dictatorship lasted almost 40 years. In 1993, the international donor community suspended its support for Togo because of massive human rights violations. The economic and social impacts of the period of dictatorship and international isolation can still be felt today.

After the death of Eyadéma in 2005, his son Faure Gnassingbé was installed by the military as the new head of state. In response to international pressure, an – extremely controversial – presidential election was held that same year, which was won by Gnassingbé. He was then confirmed in office in internationally recognised elections in 2010, 2015 and 2020.