Gnassingbe Eyadema, Africa's longest-serving head of state, who seized power in 1967 and was elected president in 1993, is preparing to run for re-election in August 1998. Although the democratization movement of 1990-1992 broke the state monopoly on the print media, Eyadema's government has gradually regained control over the press through the increasingly frequent use of repressive statutes.

In an attempt to muzzle the press, the government has refused to repeal the draconian, 7-year-old law #90-25, despite persistent appeals from the Togolese Union of Journalists. The law's provisions include criminal penalties for defamation, and specific provisions for defaming the head of state. Because Togolese law permits investigative detention for 48 hours, arrests on defamation charges have occured frequently since 1993, sometimes resulting in the closure of newspapers.

A half-dozen private radio and television stations now broadcast, but independent local coverage is limited. And the government-controlled nationwide broadcast media rarely give access to the opposition. A number of newspapers have folded because of the ever-increasing cost of printing materials.

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