C O N F I D E N T I A L MUSCAT 000369
STATE FOR AF, AF/W, NEA, NEA/ARPI, INR/B
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/02/2015
TAGS: PREL KDEM PINR TO MU
SUBJECT: OMANI INFLUENCES GNASSINGBE ON TOGO DEMOCRACY
Classified By: Ambassador Richard L. Baltimore III.
Reason: 1.4 (b, d).
Â¶1. (C) Salim bin Nasser al-Ismaili (protect), appointed by
the Sultan in 1996 to head the Omani Center for Investment
Promotion and Export Development (OCIPED), revealed to the
Ambassador in a March 1 meeting his personal intercession
with self-proclaimed Togolese leader Faure Gnassingbe to end
his unconstitutional power grab and compete in presidential
elections legally. Ismaili, who has been a close contact of
the Embassy for many years, spoke of his personal
relationship with former dictator Eyadema and son Faure built
over years of making regular business trips to Togo (NFI).
Alarmed by the mounting political crisis into which Togo was
plunged following Faure's illegal seizure of power hours
after his father's February 5 death, Ismaili consulted with
Â¶2. (C) With blunt candor, Ismaili told Faure that it was a
stupid move to take power unconstitutionally when he would be
virtually assured of victory in early elections anyway. In
view of the growing international and domestic opposition,
Ismaili counseled Gnassingbe to restore the constitutional
order voluntarily rather than await his inevitable removal
under foreign pressure. Ismaili told the Ambassador that
Gnassingbe listened attentively to his counsel, then promptly
reached a deal on stepping down as speaker of parliament and
simultaneously announcing his candidacy for president.
Â¶3. (C) Comment: Recognizing his voice was but one in a chorus
of international calls to step down, Ismaili thinks his
long-term personal relationship with Gnassingbe gave his
counsel some added weight. Ismaili is known to take on
special projects for the Sultan; his communications with
Faure probably had His Majesty's approval. End comment.