7. French Togoland (1946-1960)

 

Crisis Phase (December 13, 1946-April 27, 1960):  French Togoland was established as a United Nations Trust Territory on December 13, 1946.  Jean Noutary was appointed as Commissioner of French Togoland on December 13, 1946.  France had administered part of the former German protectorates in West Central Africa under League of Nations (LON) mandate since May 6, 1919.  Sylvanus Epiphanio Olympio, leader of the Committee of Togolese Unity (Comité de l’Unité Togolaise – CUT), submitted a petition of grievances to the UN Trusteeship Council in 1947.  Jean Henri Arsene Cedile was appointed as Commissioner of French Togoland on March 8, 1948.  The Union of Chiefs and Peoples of the North (UCPN) broke away from the CUT in 1951.  Yves Jean Digo was appointed as Commission of French Togoland on September 20, 1951.  Sylvanus Olympio was arrested by French government police in 1954, resulting in the suspension of Olympio’s rights to vote and run for political office.  Laurent Elysee Pechoux was appointed as Commissioner of French Togoland on February 3, 1955.  Jean Louis Philippe Berard was appointed as Commission of French Togoland on February 3, 1955, and he was appointed as High Commissioner of French Togoland on September 21, 1956.  On October 28, 1956, the French government held a referendum to determine whether the inhabitants preferred autonomy under French sovereignty or continued UN trusteeship, and some 72 percent of the electorate voted for autonomy in the French Union. Several political groups boycotted the referendum.

The UN General Assembly refused to accept the results of the referendum (since it did not include the option of independence), and decided to continue the UN trusteeship.  On January 23, 1957, the UN General Assembly established a six-member commission of inquiry to investigate the future of Togoland under French administration.  Joseph Edouard Georges Rigal was appointed as Acting High Commissioner of French Togoland on March 23, 1957.  Georges Leon Spenale was appointed as the last High Commissioner of French Togoland on July 1, 1957.  French Togoland requested that the UN supervise a referendum in the trust territory.  On November 29, 1957, the UN General Assembly agreed to supervise a referendum in French Togoland. A majority of the electorate voted for independence from France in a referendum held on April 27, 1958.  Elections for the French Togoland Legislative Assembly were also held on April 27, 1958, and the Committee of Togolese Unity (Comité de l’Unité Togolaise – CUT) headed by Sylvanus Olympio won 29 out of 46 seats in the legislative assembly.  The Union of Chiefs and Populations of the North (UCPN) won ten seats in the legislative assembly.  The UN established a mission consisting of 32 personnel headed by Max Dorsinville of Haiti to supervise the referendum and legislative elections. In November 1958, the UN General Assembly agreed to terminate the UN trusteeship in French Togoland. Togo formally achieved its independence from France on April 27, 1960.

[Sources: Beigbeder, 1994, 130-133; Butterworth, 1976, 89-91; Facts on File, April 24-30, 1958; Keesing’s Record of World Events, April 27-May 4, 1957, March 1-8, 1958, April 30-May 7, 1960; Langer, 1972, 1081, 1266-1267; Mortimer, 1969, 297-302.]