Togo

 

History of Togo

Togo Flag
Flag

During the period from the 11th century to the 16th century, various tribes entered the region from all directions: the Ewe from the east, and the Mina and Guinn from the west. Most settled in coastal areas.

The slave trade began in the 16th century, and for the next two hundred years the coastal region was a major trading center for Europeans in search of slaves, earning Togo and the surrounding region the name "The Slave Coast".
In 1884 a treaty was signed at Togoville with the King Mlapa III, whereby Germany claimed protectorate over a stretch of territory along the coast and gradually extended its control inland. In 1905, this became the German colony of Togoland. During World War I this German territory was invaded by British troops from the neighboring Gold Coast colony and French troops coming from Dahomey.

After the end of World War I, there was discussion of having the colony be administered by Czechoslovakia. However, this did not happen. Togoland was separated into two League of Nations mandates, administered by Britain and France. After World War II, these mandates became UN Trust Territories. The residents of British Togoland voted to join the Gold Coast as part of the new independent nation of Ghana in 1957, and French Togoland became an autonomous republic within the French Union in 1959.

Government

Togo Map Togo Map - Click for larger view

Togo's transition to democracy is stalled. Its democratic institutions remain nascent and fragile. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma, who ruled Togo under a one-party system, died of a heart attack on 5 February 2005. Gravely ill, he was being transported by plane to a foreign country for care. He died in transit, whilst over Tunisia. Under the Togolese Constitution, the President of the Parliament, Fambaré Ouattara Natchaba, should have become President of the country, pending a new presidential election to be called within sixty days. Natchaba was out of the country, returning on an Air France plane from Paris.

The Togolese army, known as Forces Armées Togolaises (FAT) – or Togolese Armed Forces closed the nation's borders, forcing the plane to land in nearby Benin. With an engineered power vacuum, the Parliament voted to remove the constitutional clause that would have required an election within sixty days, and declared that Eyadema's son, Faure Gnassingbé, would inherit the presidency and hold office for the rest of his father's term. Faure was sworn in on 7 February 2005, despite international criticism of the succession.

The African Union described the takeover as a military coup d'état. International pressure came also from the United Nations. Within Togo, opposition to the takeover culminated in riots in which several hundred died. There were uprisings in many cities and towns, mainly located in the southern part of the country. In the town of Aného reports of a general civilian uprising followed by a large scale massacre by government troops went largely unreported. In response, Faure Gnassingbé agreed to hold elections and on 25 February, Gnassingbé resigned as president, but soon afterward accepted the nomination to run for the office in April.

On 24 April 2005, Gnassingbé was elected President of Togo, receiving over 60% of the vote according to official results. His main rival in the race had been Emmanuel Bob-Akitani from the Union des Forces du Changement (UFC) or Union of Forces for Change. However, electoral fraud was suspected, due to a lack of European Union or other independent oversight. Parliament designated Deputy President, Bonfoh Abbass, as interim president until the inauguration. On 3 May 2005, Faure Gnassingbé was sworn in as the new president and the European Union suspended aid to Togo in support of the opposition claims, unlike the African Union and the United States which declared the vote "reasonably fair." The Nigerian president and Chair of the AU, Olusẹgun Ọbasanjọ, sought to negotiate between the incumbent government and the opposition to establish a coalition government, but rejected an AU Commission appointment of former Zambian president, Kenneth Kaunda, as special AU envoy to Togo. In June, President Gnassingbé named opposition leader Edem Kodjo as the prime minister.

In October 2007, after several postponements, elections were held under proportional representation. This allowed the less populated north to seat as many MPs as the more populated south. The president-backed party Rally of the Togolese People (RPT) won outright majority with the UFC coming second and the other parties claiming inconsequential representation. Again vote rigging accusations were leveled at the RPT supported by the civil and military security apparatus. Despite the presence of an EU observer mission, canceled ballots and illegal voting took place, the majority of which in RPT strongholds. The election was declared fair by the international community and praised as a model with little intimidation and few violent acts for the first time since a multiparty system was reinstated. On 3 December 2007 Komlan Mally of the RPT was appointed to prime minister succeeding Agboyibor. However, on 5 September 2008, after only 10 months in office, Mally resigned as prime minister of Togo.
Faure Gnassingbé won re-election in the March 2010 presidential election, taking 61% of the vote against Jean-Pierre Fabre from the UFC, who had been backed by an opposition coalition called FRAC (Republican Front for Change). Though the March 2010 election was largely peaceful, electoral observers noted "procedural errors" and technical problems, and the opposition did not recognize the results, claiming irregularities had affected the outcome. Periodic protests followed the election. In May 2010, long-time opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio announced that he would enter into a power-sharing deal with the government, a coalition arrangement which provides the UFC with eight ministerial posts. In June, 2012, electoral reforms prompted protesters to take to the street in Lomé for several days; protesters sought a return to the 1992 constitution that would re-establish presidential term limits. July, 2012, saw the surprise resignation of the prime minister, Gilbert Houngbo. Days later, the commerce minister, Kwesi Ahoomey-Zunu, was named to lead the new government. In the same month, the home of opposition leader Jean Pierre Fabre was raided by security forces, and thousands of protesters again rallied publicly against the government crackdown.

Religion

Half of the population believes in animism, a tribal sort of spiritualism practiced through the worship of souls, 30% are Christians and the remaining 20% are Muslims.

Language

French is the official language of Togo and is the language of commerce. The many indigenous African languages spoken by Togolese include: Gbe languages such as Ewe and Mina (the two major West African languages in the south), Kabiyé (in the north), as well as Kotokoli or Tem, Aja, Akessele, Bassar, Losso, and others.

Weather and Climate

Togo Climate

The climate is generally tropical with average temperatures ranging from 23 °C (73 °F) on the coast to about 30 °C (86 °F) in the northernmost regions, with a dry climate and characteristics of a tropical savanna. To the south there are two seasons of rain (the first between April and July and the second between September and November), even though the average rainfall is not very high.

Entry Requirements

British passport holders need a visa to enter Togo and you are strongly advised to get a visa before travel. There is no Togolese Embassy in the UK. Togo is represented in the UK on a non-resident basis by its Embassy in Paris (address: 8 Rue Alfred–Roll, 75017 Paris. Telephone: (00) (33 1) 43 80 12 13). Visas issued on arrival in Togo are limited to 7 days and getting an extension can be time-consuming.

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of one year from the date of exit from Togo.

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry to and exit from Togo.

Public Holidays

Public Holidays Togo 2015
New Year Day Jan 01 Thursday
Mouloud (Birth of the Prophet) Jan 03 Saturday
Liberation Day Jan 13 Tuesday
Easter Monday or Dyngus Day Apr 06 Monday
Independence Day Apr 27 Monday
Workers or Labour Day May 01 Friday
Ascension of Jesus May 14 Thursday
Whit Monday or Pentecost Monday May 25 Monday
Martyrs Day Jun 21 Sunday
Eid ul-Fitr or Id-Ul-Fitr (End of Ramadan) Jul 17 Friday
∅ Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Aug 15 Saturday
Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) Sep 23 Wednesday
All Saints or Hallows Day Nov 01 Sunday
Christmas Day Dec 25 Friday

Travel Advisory

There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Togo. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to an increase in violent crime, social unrest and politically motivated demonstrations.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions. Decide your destination in advance and have a planned route of travel.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.