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Togo’s tension: democracy vs. stability

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Maybe it was too early in the morning. Or perhaps their hearts just weren’t in it.

Whatever the case, a rally called by Togo ‘s opposition leaders for early Tuesday — meant to voice full-throated outrage over the March 4 election they say was rigged to favour the incumbent — was a near no-show.

Not even the opposition leaders turned up.


“It was a thousand or so youths, they burned a couple of tires and the police dispersed them,” said a Reuters witness. “The opposition leaders did not even come.”

Unclear if this was a good thing.

Togo’s March 4 election was seen as a test for democracy in Africa, a continent notorious for coups and flawed polls that have undermined efforts toward civilian rule. International observers have said the poll appeared fair.

Lessons for coup makers?

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Guinea soldiers.jpgPresident Barack Obama’s decision to end trade benefits for Guinea, Madagascar and Niger shows some stiffening of Washington’s resolve to act against those seen to be moving in the opposite direction to demands for greater democracy in Africa.

But the fact that new benefits were simultaneously extended to Mauritania may also give a lesson in how would-be coup makers should best behave if they want to get away with it.

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