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Vol 38 No 3

Published 31st January 1997


Still at the helm

Eyadéma celebrated 30 years in charge but few foreign guests came to the party

The 'Great Helmsman' celebrated his 30th year at the tiller on 13 January with a five-hour parade of troops and civilians costing, by local estimates, over US$2 million. Only pressure from foreign creditors and donors stopped President Gnassingbè Eyadéma from spending more. The most notable foreign guest was his doctor, France's former Cooperation Minister Bernard Debré. None of the foreign presidents invited (including France's Jacques Chirac) turned up, perhaps to avoid being photographed in General Eyadéma's embarrassing company. Germany, the United States and the European Union instructed their representatives to steer clear. The government lamely explained that the celebrations were entre nous as Lomé's facilities were toopoor for dignitaries.

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