Ghana, Togo to strengthen ties

BY: Kwame Asare Boadu
President John Mahama and his Togolese counterpart, Faure Gnassingbé, conferring at the Jubilee Lounge

The Togolese President, Mr Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, arrived in Accra yesterday for a three-day state visit. A downpour in the afternoon delayed the arrival of the President and also shelved some of the activities lined up for the grand welcome ceremony.

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President John Dramani Mahama received Mr Gnassingbé on arrival at the Golden Jubilee Lounge at exactly 3.40 p.m.

A large number of Togolese residents in Ghana defied the rains to welcome their President at the airport, while many others lined the road leading to the lounge.

Mr Gnassingbé waved at his compatriots who had thronged the Golden Jubilee Lounge to welcome him. 


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Ghana-Togo relations 

Relations between Ghana and Togo have experienced their ups and downs. 

Suspicion at the leadership level resulted in sour relations between the two countries, amid accusations and counter-accusations, in the 1990s.

Former President Jerry John Rawlings and the late Togolese leader, President Gnassingbe Eyadema, had, at one stage, accused each other of harbouring dissidents to destabilise each other's country.

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The relations improved in the 2000s during the tenure of former President John Agyekum Kufuor.

President Faure Gnassingbé’s election further eased the tension, as he moved quickly to mend the strained relations and strengthen the ties between the two countries.

Over time, the relations have improved tremendously and, just recently, the two countries opened a common border post.

Mr Gnassingbé's visit is expected to further develop, enhance and consolidate the friendly and brotherly relations existing between Ghana and Togo, their peoples and the two leaders.

Activities 

As part of the visit, President Mahama will hold talks with his guest at the Flagstaff House today.

The bilateral discussions between the two leaders will centre on a joint water project that will serve Ghana and Togo.

Besides, President Mahama and his guest will jointly inaugurate the West Hills Mall near Accra and visit the DanAdams Pharmaceutical Company. 

The two leaders will also be the guests of honour at the inauguration of the Atta Mills Centre for Law and Governance at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).

President Gnassingbé will also visit the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and the Asomdwee Park, both in Accra.

The man Gnassingbé

The 48-year-old Mr Gnassingbé became President of Togo in 2005 after the death of his father, Mr Eyadéma.

In the twilight of his father’s Presidency, the young Gnassingbé was seen as heir apparent and it was no wonder that on his father’s death in February 2005, the powerful Togolese military declared him the successor.

The action of the military was condemned by the international community, which described it as a coup.

Mr Gnassingbé took the best decision by stepping down to contest a democratic presidential election in April 2005, which he won, leading to his swearing in as President on May 4, 2005.

He studied Economics and International Relations at the Sorbonne in Paris and also holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.