February 1, 2023

U.S. Ambassador to Togo Elizabeth Fitzsimmons presents credentials to President Faure Gnassingbé

Ambassador Elizabeth Fitzsimmons, April 26, 2022, U.S. Embassy in Togo
Ambassador Elizabeth Fitzsimmons, April 26, 2022, U.S. Embassy in Togo

United States Ambassador to Togo Elizabeth Fitzsimmons on April 26, 2022 presented her credentials to Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé.

Ambassador Elizabeth Fitzsimmons, April 26, 2022, U.S. Embassy in Togo

While this is Fitzsimmons’s first time serving as an ambassador to a nation, she has decades of diplomatic  experience in the U.S. State Department.

She has held positions such as Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Central Africa and Public Diplomacy, and Acting Deputy Spokesperson for the department.

She has also served internationally, completing assignments in Taiwan, Honk Kong, Cambodia, India, and Bulgaria.

In the West African nation of Togo, the government has been controlled since 1963 by the late Gnassingbé Eyadéma and his son, current president Faure Gnassingbé. The latter assumed power in 2005 following the death of his father.

According to the U.S. State Department, “the United States seeks to work with Togo to consolidate democratic gains and economic growth.”

“Togo is a key regional partner to maintain peace and security in West Africa,” claimed Ambassador Fitzsimmons after being nominated to her position.

The Togolese government has undertaken significant economic reforms over the last several years. The nation’s annual GDP change has indicated growth every year since 2007.

However, for years Togo has been criticized for its human rights track record and its undemocratic governing tendencies.

In Amnesty International’s 2021 report of human rights in Togo, it said, “The right to freedom of expression was violated; sanctions were imposed on media outlets. A draft freedom of association bill threatened to violate human rights. Detainees suffered overcrowding. Health workers denounced violations of the right to health. Discrimination including violence against women continued.”

While Togo professes to be a representative republic, the international community has raised concerns over its political trajectory and systematic framework. For the past six decades, the nation has been governed by one bloodline.

Located in a region that largely lacks stability as well as strong democratic institutions, the prioritization of open and free dialogue based on a fundamental respect for human rights is of the utmost importance.

“While Togo aspires to become a regional economic and security leader, these goals cannot be achieved without strengthening Togo’s democratic institutions. Recent Togolese government restrictions on the media, politically motivated arrests, limitations on political gatherings, and suspensions of press outlets raise concern,” explained Ambassador Fitzimmons in October.

“I will work with the Government of Togo, political parties, civil society organizations, and other diplomatic missions to promote political reforms, reinforce democratic institutions, and strengthen electoral institutions and processes to promote free and fair elections,” she continued.

Ambassador Fitzimmons has a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in East Asian Studies from the University of Virginia. She speaks French, Mandarin Chinese, and Bulgarian.

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