Gnassingbé Eyadéma

President of Togo (1935-2005)

Gnassingbé Eyadéma (born Étienne Gnassingbé, 26 December 19355 February 2005) was a Togolese military officer and politician who was the president of Togo from 1967 until his death in 2005. At the time of his death, Eyadéma was the longest-serving ruler in Africa and his rule rested on repression, patronage, and a bizarre leadership cult.

Gnassingbé Eyadéma


  • The positive evolution which marked international relations in recent months and which gave rise to rightful feelings of hope within people who love peace, freedom, and justice will only be fruitful if appropriate remedies are found for the serious development problems facing Third World countries in general and Africa in particular.
  • I would like to take this solemn opportunity to once again appeal to the friendly nations of Africa, such as the United States, so that, like the aid granted to the Eastern countries, they set up a real Marshall plan in favor of the African Continent. Just as in the past, I'm quite sure that Togo can rely on your country, to which it is bound by links of friendship and cooperation covering not only agricultural, social, and political sectors but cultural ones as well.
  • I, therefore, wish to invite American investors to come in numbers and settle in Togo where, within the framework of that industrial-free zone, they could enjoy a climate of peace, security, and freedom, a necessary condition for the development of their businesses, including the best attracting conditions of investments.
  • Our country has a strong belief in the future of the close cooperation which links our two nations, and there is no doubt on my mind that this official visit will further consolidate the friendship and the solidarity which bind the people of both nations and strengthen our thoughtful and sincere relations in any field.
  • The institution we have created for ourselves has stood the test of time, despite the storms and hurricanes that it has had to brave. It has held firm because its foundations are solid, but this does not mean that it does not need to be revitalized. It is in this context that I would like to mention two important areas whose image I think the United Nations should transform: on the one hand, peacekeeping, and, on the other, development.
  • Yet despite the progress our continent has made over the past 40 years, Africa continues to be weakened by the ills of underdevelopment. Today, 33 of the world's 48 least developed countries are African countries. In other words, three fifths of the States of our continent belong to that group of countries that are lagging behind in the pursuit of development.
  • The African debt problem was also of concern to the OAU Heads of State and Government at the Lomé summit. At a session more than 12 years ago, the African countries adopted a common position on the African foreign debt crisis. Unfortunately, our continent continues to be the region of the world where the debt burden is heaviest. As the General Assembly noted last year in resolution 54/202, "the continuing debt and debt-servicing problems of heavily indebted developing countries", are one of the factors that hinder their development and economic growth. This finding should motivate the international community, especially the developed countries and international financial institutions, to take more courageous measures, such as the outright cancellation of the African countries' debt. Such a decision would greatly contribute to the success of the efforts of our countries, which have committed themselves to implementing sustained programmes to eradicate poverty.
  • At a more global level, we note that major transnational companies, which play a crucial role in the world economy, are remarkably absent from United Nations economic forums. As in the International Labour Organization (ILO), where representatives of Governments, employers and employees work together, it is desirable that in the Economic and Social Council representatives of Governments should sit side by side with those of multinational companies. That would enhance the effectiveness and impact of this important United Nations body. The international community, for its part, should prove, by decisive action, that it truly wishes to put an end to the suffering of the poorest peoples, the largest proportion of whom, unfortunately, are in Africa.
  • It is well known that our continent is not afflicted solely by the economic underdevelopment that puts it in last place in terms of the quality of life. It is also a region of the world where numerous lethal conflicts continue to sow death and desolation.
  • In conclusion, I would like to underscore that the African continent, despite its difficulties, continues to be a region of great potential wealth; however, its resources have inadequately been inventoried, developed and exploited. We must not despair and think that Africa will not overcome these difficulties. We are resolved to do everything within our power to improve the political, economic and social situation of our continent.

About Gnassingbé Eyadéma

  • Famous for his lavish gifts to visitors and his obliviousness to calls for human rights, Eyadema helped institutionalise the image of the African despot in dark glasses who named the streets of Togo's capital, Lomé, after red-letter dates in his life.
Wikipedia has an article about: