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Gnassingbé Eyadéma became president of Togo via a bloodless coup to oust President Nicolas Grunitzky and then founded the Assembly of the Togolese People.
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Togolese soldier and president (1967??2005), born in Pya, Togo. He joined the French army in 1953 and experienced extensive foreign service, attaining the rank of sergeant. Returning to Togoland in 1962 he became army commander-in-chief (1965). Two years later he led a bloodless coup to oust President Nicolas Grunitzky. He banned all political activity until he had founded a new organization, the Assembly of the Togolese People, as the only legal party. Although there were several attempts to overthrow him, he began to introduce a degree of democracy into the political system, and a multi-party system was instituted in 1992. He was elected president in 1994, although all the major opposition parties boycotted the election, and again in 1998, this time against credible opposition. A boycott of parliamentary elections, however, remained. At his death, the country's constitution was amended to allow his son, Faure Gnassingbé, to take over as president and rule unchallenged until 2008, but strong international opposition forced his withdrawal pending elections (April 2005). He was confirmed the winner by Togo' Constitutional Court.
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