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Togo: why Lomé is also knocking on the door of the Commonwealth

MBut what drives French-speaking countries towards the Commonwealth? The question deserves to be asked as Gabon, a 100% French-speaking Central African country, will join the Commonwealth organization this year. President Ali Bongo Ondimba justified this “major geopolitical turning point by the need to belong to another multicultural space in a globalized world”. On the other hand, the country maintains that it remains a member of La Francophonie.

READ ALSOGabon knocks on the door of the Commonwealth

Historical-political renewal

In any case, his approach inspired Togo, a small West African country whose National Assembly authorized, this Friday, April 22, in a resolution, the government to complete the process of the country’s accession to the Commonwealth. “In the name of the Togolese people, the National Assembly expresses its support for the process of Togo’s accession to the Commonwealth,” reads the institution’s resolution.

“It would be desirable for Togo to submit its official candidacy on time. The Commonwealth Secretariat has informed our country that the last consultation could be done as soon as possible so that from the next meeting on June 20, our country can take its place,” said Christian Trimua, the government spokesman and Minister of Human Rights and Relations with the Institutions of the Republic.

On the political level, the Togolese Parliament assures it, “beyond the old British political heritage, it ensures Togo the international recognition of a historico-political renewal”. While “on the commercial level, membership guarantees a vast external market for the export of Togolese national products. With the Commonwealth, it’s more than 2 billion consumers. »

The attractiveness of the Commonwealth

The Commonwealth, with some fifty members and a gigantic market of more than 2 billion consumers, seems to have gained a reputation in African countries in recent years for its development model, according to several analysts. The example that is often cited is Rwanda, which switched to the Commonwealth in 2009 and has since experienced rapid economic development observed by other states. But the process did not happen overnight, a fierce debate between supporters and opponents of this entry of Rwanda – because of serious violations of governance and human rights in particular – had postponed the decision for two year. It was without counting on the activism of President Paul Kagame, who spared no effort to convince the large English-speaking family to welcome him into its ranks. A convinced Anglophone, the Rwandan head of state had had English adopted as the official language in his country, when he wanted to turn his back on the Francophonie and the French sphere of influence at the time.

READ ALSORwanda: French in search of a new lease of life

A complex process for a country with a particular history

Since 2014, Togo has wanted to join the organization led by Queen Elizabeth II, due to the good economic health of the members of the organization. And also because this entry would allow the country to diversify its relations of friendship and cooperation, but also to reconfigure its relations with the United Kingdom outside the European Union, believe local analysts. The influence of English in the business world is also another strategic argument. In concrete terms, several assessment missions have visited Lomé in recent years to ensure that Togo meets a certain number of criteria: democracy, rule of law, freedom of the press, business climate. Discussions have therefore been initiated and are continuing, but the process is complex.

The only country in West Africa to have never experienced peaceful political change, Togo also has a particular history. The small state was a former German colony until the First World War. Its territory will then be shared between the allies, amputated from a part, in the West, entrusted to the British while the French will keep the other part today known as Togo. The so-called “British” Togo will be integrated into the neighboring Gold Coast, the current Ghana and the French part will become independent on April 27, 1960.

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