- Togo's ruler Faure Gnassingbé today announced the country's new government, which includes his own brother, hardliners from his father's military dictatorship and a few detractors from the opposition. International calls to form a national unity government after the 24 April rigged elections thus have finally failed.
Togo's newly appointed Prime Minister Edem Kodjo on Monday night announced the formation of a new cabinet, the state television reported. The new cabinet is made up of 30 Ministers, only 5 of these coming from the last government. 67-year-old Mr Kodjo already served as Prime Minister during the military dictatorship of late President Gnassingbé Eyadéma between 1994 and 1996.
According to state media, a large number of the 30 Ministers are from the opposition, including so-called "moderate opposition parties". The parties are however mostly funded and run by the ruling Rally of the Togolese People (RPT). Three Ministers however also were attributed to the real opposition alliance that challenged Mr Gnassingbé in the April polls.
Tchessa Abi "from the main opposition coalition" has been appointed Minister of Justice, according to the Togolese government. Further, the new Ministers of Culture and of Social and Women's Affairs were said to be from the opposition alliance. The military-supported rulers in Lomé therefore claim to have included all political camps in the new government.
This is however strongly contested by spokesmen from the opposition alliance. Two of these "opposition ministers" had to abandon their parties to join the new cabinet, while the last had not been part of the opposition for more than five years. All were acting on their personal behalf, not on behalf of the opposition alliance, the spokesman said.
The opposition alliance refused to join a national unity government despite the calls from the African Union (AU). They would only cooperate with the ruling RPT if new elections were held, claiming that the April polls were rigged in favour of Mr Gnassingbé. Mr Gnassingbé on his behalf would not hear of new elections.
The new Togolese cabinet thus is not considered a "national unity government" by any of the main stakeholders. It has already been criticised for including a majority of hardliners from the clan surrounding ex-President Eyadéma. The Eyadéma clan's close connection to Togo's armed forces was underlined by the appointment of Kpatcha Gnassingbé - a brother of the ruler - to the post of Defence Minister.
Faure Gnassingbé was installed as Togolese President by the armed forces shortly after his father died in February. Togo's military is mainly manned by northerners, coming from the same ethnic group as ex-President Eyadéma and his sons.
Since the 24 April elections - where Mr Gnassingbé claimed 60 percent of the votes despite strong indications he had lost - Togo's military elite has been cracking down on opposition activists. Hundreds are reported to have "disappeared" in the southern opposition strongholds. More than 36,000 Togolese have escaped the crackdown and are now living as refugees in Benin and Ghana.
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