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Togo Names the First Female Prime Minister

Togo Names the First Female Prime Minister

Togo – The government of Togo has officially selected the nation’s first female prime minister. Victoire Tomegah Dogbe was appointed by President Faure Gnassingbe on Monday. Her appointment represents a significant, progressive jump for the small West African nation. The new Secretary-General, Ms. Ablamba Ahoefavi Jonhson, made the announcement. 

Dogbe is a welcome change in Togo, a West African nation that is home to approximately eight million citizens. Both popular and admired, Dogbe has served in several political seats for over a decade. Previously, she was employed with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and, most recently, Dogbe has held various ministerial positions, such as Development Minister as well as working as the president’s chief of staff.  

Dogbe replaced Prime Minister Komi Selom Klassou, who resigned on Friday. Klassou has held his position since 2015. Prime Minister Dogbe’s appointment comes after the disputed re-election of Gnassingbe, who has governed Togo for the past fifteen years. His father, who controlled Togo since the coup of 1967, abdicated, leaving control in his son’s hands.  

Protests ensued for two years during 2017 to 2019, with protesters demanding that the Gnassingbe family be removed from office. Nonetheless, in 2019, Gnassingbe coerced a constitutional reform in permitting his re-election in February of 2020. In doing so, the president defeated his closest challenger and former prime minister, Agbeyome Kodjo. Kodjo disputed the election result, claiming there had been election-tampering. 

By extending his 15-year rule, Gnassingbe is predicted to remain in office until 2025. Thanks to stunted economic gains, claims of electoral fraud, and human rights violations, he has seen growing resistance and hostility throughout the country.  

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dogbe has had substantial involvement with Togo’s ongoing battle against unemployment and poverty. Togo, one of the world’s poorest nations, has become further challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic due to social distancing restrictions. 

To date,  the country has experienced approximately 1,743 cases of COVID-19 infections — and the rate is rising. Additionally, over half of the population lives below the poverty line, as per the World Bank’s data and analysis. 

On September 11th, 2020, the World Bank declared it would issue $70 million in relief funds for Togo. The country’s growth is anticipated to drop significantly from 5.3% in 2019 to 1% in 2020.  

Prime Minister Dogbe has been clear in her attentions to immediately set to work to form a new government. With so many pressing issues, will the prime minister get the support she needs from the people of Togo?

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Erin Mayer has been published in numerous publications. When she is not reporting, writing, studying or protesting, she is gardening, traveling, or at the beach with loved ones.

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