TWO DISQUIETING MONTHS AFTER THE CHIEF STATE prosecutor Robert Baoubadi Bakai startled the Togolese nation with claims that the security forces had uncovered a coup plot masterminded by Kpatcha Gnassingbe, the former defence minister and junior half-brother of President Faure Gnassingbe, people are still wondering what the political game plan is all about.
Even though there is growing public cynicism about the whole drama, this has not completely exonerated Kpatcha from the coup charges. This is because speculation about "an imminent coup" by Kpatcha had been circulating in Lome for the past two years.
The speculations assumed alarming proportions after President Faure dismissed Kpatcha from the strategic defence ministry in a cabinet reshuffle in 2007. Everyone knew Kpatcha was hurt, but he vigorously denied there was any vendetta between him and his brother. Yet he resigned in a fit of anger as managing director of SAZOF, the free export zone, after he lost the defence portfolio. On his part, President Faure always tried to put on a brave face as if nothing untoward was brewing between the two brothers, now turned enemies. In the Togolese media, the subject was treated with utmost caution, like a taboo, and in most cases swept under the carpet.
When matters got worse, not even the intervention of some concerned African presidents, regarded as the adopted godfathers of the two brothers, could reconcile them. The line-up of mediators was formidable. First was the late Omar Bongo of Gabon, then Muammar AlGathafi of Libya, then Musa Yar'Adua of Nigeria, Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso and John Kufuor of Ghana. But their noble mediation efforts fell on deaf ears. Meanwhile Kpatcha returned to the Togo parliament as an MP for the Kozah constituency in Kara, northern Togo, his political domain. Some say he was preparing to present himself as a presidential candidate to oppose his senior brother on the ticket of the ruling Togolese People's Rally (RPT) in elections fixed for 2010.
It was against this disconcerting background that the otherwise calm of the capital, Lome, was shattered by a prolonged exchange of gunfire at Kpatcha's residence, starting just before midnight on Sunday 12 April and ending in the morning of Monday 13 April.
As expected, Lome was caught up in a vortex of bewildering confusion. But Kpatcha later telephoned some foreign journalists alleging that he had been a target of an...