Africa’s longest-serving dictator, Gnassingbe Eyadema, died a few hours ago while out of the country for medical treatment. Anyone hoping that this would end almost four decades of dominance of Togo by a man named Eyadema may need to wait a little longer. The military appointed one of Eyadema’s sons – Faure – his successor, counter to the Togolese constitution, which would appoint the speaker of Parliament as the successor.
Speaker of Parliament Fambare Natchaba Ouattara was trying to get back to Lom from Paris when his plane was diverted to Benin, because the Togolese army had closed the nation’s borders. This may be one of the reasons that the African Union has termed the move a “coup”.
The Economist ran an article in late December, titled “Toughs at the Top”, featuring Turkmenbashi, Eyadema and Kim Jong Il as the last great charismatic dictators. Let’s all hope that Faure is not positioning himself to fill the old man’s shoes.