Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Togo has a new president

30 April update: Of course, we are making connections with folks either in Lome or heading there. I've been e-mailing with the principal of AISL for many months and the new RSO is currently taking French at FSI. The new DCM (who arrives in Lome a couple weeks before we do) will be starting French soon and we've of course been going back and forth with the CLO, Housing and other sections.

I'd written an e-mail to the principal earlier this week, knowing that until phone lines were restored she wouldn't receive it. Basically, it was an inquiry into the safety of the school, the students and of course, herself. Today I received a response outlining the past week:
"Yes, the cell and land phones and the Internet were down as all communications were cut off by the government. We are just getting back to normal as best we can. A short scenario- Saturday-school across the street from my house attacked, ramsacked and looted, Sunday-Elections, Monday School closed, Tuesday I opened the school thinking the election outcome would take days to be announced-wrong. The annoucements came at noon-parents picked up the students. Automatic gunfire everywhere, fires blocked every intersection and tear-gas in the air. At 4:00 p.m. remaining staff and students left the school for the teacher's boarding house. Didn't feel safe there as house across the street attacked and looted. Drove in teacher's car with 3 remaining students and 3 staff for the German Embassy where we stayed overnight. Wed-students were taken home at noon and I returned to my house ... Teachers left for home or for Ghana on Thursday. Thursday and Friday-school closed. Hope to open school on Monday."
The good news, of course, is that all are OK.
Recap: Elections were held this past Sunday and a new President has been elected. According to the polls, Faure Gnassingbe won with a respectable 60% of the vote, while the runner up, Bob Akitani, scored 38% of the vote. So Mr. Faure, the former President's son, has been elected. He's being very gracious about it, extending his hand and asking the loser to join in a "government of national unity." The only problem is that the opposition believes the election was rigged. Violence is erupting in the streets, 11 people are reported dead, And Mr. Akitani is now declaring himself President too.
To reiterate what Ian wrote: Post has been placed on Authorized Departure. What does that mean? Non-essential personnel and family members who want to leave, can. And new people can't arrive at post. It's early so we don't yet know how this will affect us in July. Until then, we live our lives as though we're off to Togo on August 31st, and hope that the country calms itself in the meantime.

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