In the seraglio of Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé, his younger brother Mey has seen his influence grow year after year. Between his travels with the Togolese president, his public positions and a formal parachuting on the political scene, is the young Gnassingbé the ideal dolphin of the Togolese president?
“Dear opponents (…), if you cannot agree, after Faure Gnassingbé, Togo will still have a Gnassingbé in power”, warned the Togolese journalist and opponent Firmin Teko-Agbo at the end of last year.
Since 2017, Meyebine-esso Kwamé Gnassingbé - nicknamed "Mey" -, the young half-brother of the President of Togo, has made a remarkable incursion on the Togolese public scene. The “young prince” had already been at the head of an association, Jeunesse en Mouvement (JEM) for several years. An association which had mobilized colossal funds for philanthropic works and which made it possible to launch an effective storytelling concerning Mey Gnassingbé, brother and adviser to the president.
And if Mey Gnassingbé is indeed present alongside his brother since the latter took power, following the death of the patriarch Eyadema Gnassingbé in 2005, his initiation to power is progressing slowly but surely. The Togolese president knows it well: if his brother were to be a credible successor, he would have to act… even if it meant doing anything?
Came from nowhere
Adviser to the presidency of Togo since the first term of Faure Gnassingbé, Mey Gnassingbé had other ambitions than politics. Destined to become a footballer, Mey was raised by his mother, Véronique Massan Ossey, a renowned judge and former minister from the north of the country.
Like all of Faure Gnassingbé's brothers, Mey has only really joined the family since the death of father Eyadema, and has become even closer to Faure's circle since the death of his mother Véronique in 2010.
As soon as Faure Gnassingbé took power in 2005, Mey decides to launch her association, JEM. We were talking about a philanthropist, having studied in France and who had given up a potential career as a professional footballer at Racing Club de France. Mey Gnassingbé was then barely 20 years old, and was appointed to the post of project manager at the presidency of Togo.
From football to politics
Now 36, Mey Gnassingbé is both the close adviser of the Togolese president, whom he often accompanies on his diplomatic trips, but he is also mayor of Amou. He has also been deputy for Amou-Oblo on behalf of the ruling party, the Union for the Republic (UPR), since 2018.
In 2015, Mey Gnassingbé returned to his first love by buying the Kozah Sports Association (ASKO), one of Kara's major teams. Under his presidency, the club also regained its league title in 2021.
Mey Gnassingbé is also known to be close to the world of football. Something to remind his uncle Rock Balakiyèm Gnassingbé, former president of the Togolese Football Federation and brother of Eyadema.
In March 2021, he was spotted alongside Samuel Eto'o as part of a tour of Togolese stadiums, before a head-to-head between the ex-Indomitable Lion and the president.
On September 13, Mey was elected mayor of Amou. In July, the Togolese parliament pays tribute to him for his “leadership within the ASKO of Kara”.
Mey, Faure's plan B?
While the pressure intensifies on the Heads of State of the ECOWAS countries, in particular because of the overthrow of presidents "for life", who adjust the Constitutions as they please, Faure Gnassingbé, in power for 16 years, must now think about the future.
According to the last modification of the constitution, the Togolese president granted himself the right to present himself, again, for the presidency in 2025. He is currently in his fourth term, in a political environment marked by a fracture within the opposition. He is also very close to the army, which put him in power in 2005. This allays, to some extent, fears of a potential coup in Togo.
Nevertheless, in the event that Faure Gnassingbé were to leave power one day, he seeks to place one or more potential successors. Where Mey Gnassingbé intervenes is that he greatly participated in the plebiscite of his half-brother in their stronghold of Kara.
There, Faure Gnassingbé enjoys real popularity. Mey, he maintains a "policy of proximity" with the populations, in particular thanks to football and a multitude of philanthropic works. At the same time, Mey Gnassingbé remains far from the radars of the international press, especially when it comes to accusations of corruption or embezzlement.
A dolphin made intelligently, therefore, that some observers would see being propelled to power by 2034. A date still very distant, but with the many coups in West Africa, one can never be too careful.