Togo - Foreign policy



Since French President Mitterrand's democracy speech at La Baule in 1990, Eyadéma's authoritarian rule and human rights abuses have come increasingly under criticism from the West, and soured Togo's relations with Western powers. In particular, the controversy over the 1998 elections, the repeated delays in the legislative elections, and the unilateral revisions to the Constitution and electoral code have led to cuts in foreign aid, and have aggravated the precarious socioeconomic footing for the majority of Togolese. These fortunes are reversible given the European Union members' concern for stability in the sub-region, and given the enduring friendship between French President Jacques Chirac and Eyadéma. The US, which was perhaps most critical of the October elections and Constitutional revisions, has since appointed a seasoned ambassador to Togo signalling a normalization of relations.

Togo historically has enjoyed good relations within Africa, particularly with former Zairian leader, Mobutu Sese Seko. When Mobutu was driven from power in 1997, Eyadéma lost a valuable ally. Relations with Ghana, which Eyadéma frequently accused of sponsoring coups, improved following the election of President Kufuor in 2000. Although opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio continues to be exiled in Ghana where he has resided since 1982, Togo's border with Ghana was opened 24 hours a day in March 2002 to facilitate bilateral and inter-regional trade. Togo imports most of its products from Ghana, which accounted for 26% of Togo's total purchases in 2000. Togo exports mostly to Benin, Nigeria, Ghana, and Colombia.

Despite his somewhat dubious reputation as a political dinosaur and international pariah in some circles, Eyadéma takes an interest in international peace and has distinguished himself and his country through this passion. As head of the Economic Community of West African States' (ECOWAS) contact group, Eyadéma had taken the lead in the Côte d'Ivoire peace process until the Paris talks in January 2003, which he boycotted. President Wade of Senegal, then chair of ECOWAS, lobbied for control of the process himself. Subsequently, Ghana-the current ECOWAS chair-and France all but replaced Eyadéma in his role as chief mediator. Nevertheless, Eyadéma has supporters in the sub-region including President Tandja of Niger, who also boycotted the Paris meetings. Under Eyadéma's leadership, Togo hosted many international conferences and gatherings including the Lome I-IV Conventions. However, owing to Eyadéma's support for UNITA in violation of UN sanctions, subsequent meetings were hosted in Cotonou. Togo has memberships in the UN, ECOWAS, and the African Union (AU), which Eyadéma chaired in 2000.

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Feb 1, 2011 @ 6:18 pm
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