Potential Hot Spots: February 8, 2005

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In the tiny African nation of Togo (population about five million), the president for life, Gnassingbe Eyadema, died on February 5th. The next day, the government hastily, and illegally, modified the constitution to all the dead dictators son, Faure Gnassingbe, to become the new president for life. France, which is the "patron" of Togo (and former colonial occupier), thought it had a deal with the late dictator, a deal that would mean elections for a new president after Gnassingbe Eyadema passed away. The old man was typical wily tyrant, which is why he died in bed, still in charge. Togo is, by any standard, a backwater. It has no oil, a GDP of a few billion dollars and about three dozen different tribes.  The armed forces and police amount to about ten thousand men. These are the people who control the country, especially the army of 9,000. None of the tribes, families, or political parties, have succeeded in deposing Eyadema, who took over in a 1968 coup. After that, about ten percent of the population fled into exile. Some of these exiles still plot to regain power. But the last time a real effort was made was in 1986. It failed. Eyadema played the usual divide and conquer game, using what little wealth his poor country generated to keep key followers happy. But there is a lot of pent up resentments, and discontent. It could all boil over into t smaller version of  what is happening in neighboring Congo. 

 

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