The pressure is mounting. Indeed, the president's leading advisers are striving to take control of matters as concern mounts at the World Bank and IMF. The two bodies have made their aid conditional on a restructuring of the sector and an increase in the transparency of its functioning. At stake is the keenly awaited integration of the downstream end of the phosphates sector and the emergence of a local fertiliser industry.

In the existing set-up, the mines minister, who is a loyal servant of the presidency, has no room for manoeuvre. His post can remain vacant, moreover, for months on end. The president and director general of Société Nouvelle des Phosphates du Togo (SNPT), who are appointed by the presidency, do not have any greater latitude.