Freedom in the World
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Faure Gnassingbé was reelected president of Togo in March 2010. While voting irregularities were reported, they were not serious enough to alter the outcome. The opposition bitterly contested the results and led weekly demonstrations in Lomédespite a temporary ban on post-election protests. After the Union of Forces for Change (UFC) splintered in May over the election controversy, a faction led by the party’s historic leader, Gilchrist Olympio, entered into a coalition with the ruling party, giving the opposition representation in government for the first time since 1990.
Originally part of a German colony that fell under the control of France after World War I, Togo gained its independence in 1960. Gnassingbé Eyadéma, a demobilized sergeant, overthrew the civilian government in a bloodless coup in 1967. Using mock elections and a loyal military, he then presided over close to 40 years of repressive rule.
Togo is not an electoral democracy. Despite international consensus that the 2007 legislative elections and the 2010 presidential elections were carried out in a relatively free and fair manner, the structure of the electoral system largely ensures that President Faure Gnassingbe will remain in power. The president is elected to five-year terms and appoints the prime minister. Members of the 81-seat, unicameral National Assembly are also elected to five-year terms, using a party-list system that favors the RPT.