Gnassingbe EyademaGeneral Gnassingbe Eyadema
), is the President
. He has been head of state
, since the country's independence from France in 1967
— and is the world's longest serving president. His original given name was Etienne, which he africanized in 1974
. He served in the French army
) before entering the armed forces of Togo, where he became chief of the general staff, in 1965
. He seized power in 1967
and assumed the offices of president and minister of national defense
. A national conference in 1991
attempted to force him from power
, but army violence forced Eyadema's restoration in 1992.
He was reelected president in 1972, 1979, 1986, 1993 and 1998 in often rigged election contests boycotted by the opposition. The head of government, since June 29, 2002, is Prime Minister Koffi Sama.