Togo

RFI stands behind journalist over Togo saga as French government confirms letter

Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé is scheduled to visit France this weekend.
Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé is scheduled to visit France this weekend. RFI/OR

The French government has confirmed that it had indeed sent a letter from President Emmanuel Macron congratulating Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé on his re-election, a letter that had been the subject of some controversy among the Togolese opposition.

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France’s ministry of foreign affairs said the letter sent to Gnassingbé, who won re-election in February 2020, was of a typical international diplomatic nature, wishing the Togolese leader success.

The letter had been at the centre of a storm, as the RFI journalist who initially reported on it in March 2020 was subjected to threats and harassment.

Members of the Togolese opposition had accused Pierre Firtion of lying when he cited letters of congratulation sent by France, Germany and the European Union.

RFI has published all three of these letters, demonstrating that Firtion had correctly reported the facts. 

RFI management said in a statement on 26 March 2021, he carried out his job with rigour and professionalism.

It’s a family affair

Gnassingbé secured a landscape election victory last year, taking 72 percent of the vote, in polls that the Togolese opposition described as a masquerade.

His victory gave him a fourth five-year term in office and further extended his family’s rule of the West African country. The dynasty began in 1967 when his father took power in a coup.

Togo, which gained independence from France in 1960, has been the scene of several protest movements against Gnassingbé. The campaigns claim the president has illegally outstayed his time in office, under the moniker: “Faure must go”.

Gnassingbé is expected to visit France on Friday on the invitation of Macron, according to the Togolese government.

The trip will focus on diplomacy and the economy, with bilateral cooperation, development and security top of the agenda, a statement from the Togolese presidency said.

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