…As Anti-Gnassingbe Protest Thickens
The Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), the sub-regional body expected to intervene in the current Togo crisis, is helpless and any attempt could be met with strong resistance of bias, according to the Minority Spokesperson on foreign affairs in Ghana’s parliament, Hon. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa.
He told The Gazette exclusively in parliament yesterday that the tension in Togo remained a complex problem for ECOWAS in the sense that, its current Chairman, who ought to convene a meeting on the situation happening in Togo, is the Togolese President, Faoure Gnassingbe, himself.
Since the anti-Gnassingbe protest broke out, there has not been any external intervention, except individual international policy experts who are urging the sub-regional body, ECOWAS, to devise means of intervening to end the crisis.
Since Sunday 20th August, thousands of Togolese have been on the streets protesting against 50-year ruling of the Gnassingbe dynasty and calling for the reinstatement of the constitution limiting terms.
But speaking to The Gazette, on the matter, Mr. Ablakwa said the uprising by the opposition parties against Faure Gnassingbe is very complex because the President of Togo happens to be the Chairman of ECOWAS, and so an intervention by ECOWAS would not be palatable to the opposition, as the issue of bias could arise.
In the view of the North Tongu Member of Parliament, it would be wise for Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo, to intervene in a more neutral way and diplomatically offer himself as a possible mediator between the factions, the Coalition of Opposition Parties and the President and his government.
“If you look at the situation, ordinarily, ECOWAS intervention will have been the best, but the current Chair of ECOWAS is the Togolese president, Faure Gnassingbe, and that has complicated matters.
“And so if you ask for an ECOWAS intervention, the opposition parties in Togo will not trust that intervention, knowing that their president is the Chairman of ECOWAS. I believe Ghana, as the immediate next door neighbour, President Akufo-Addo could intervene to bring down the situation,” he stated.
The North Tongu legislator expressed worry over the happening in Togo, stating that there was the need for timely intervention to forestall any worse situation that could be difficult to control.
The tension has compelled the Togolese security forces to use tear gas to disperse protesters in Lome, the Togole capital.
At least, seven protesters were reportedly killed, and 12 gendarmes (police) were wounded in Sokode, 338km north of the capital, when security forces opened fire to break up demonstrations, the security ministry said on Saturday.
President Faure Gnassingbe has been in power in the West African country since the 2005 death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had been at the helm for 38 years.
Chanting “50 years is too long!” thousands took to the streets of Lome last Saturday calling for the reinstatement of the constitution limiting presidential terms, but security forces fired tear gas to disperse them.
The hashtag #Togoenmarche, or “Togo on the move” in English, is being used to rally supporters.
Despite the threats of the Minister of Security, hundreds of thousands of people are in the street in Togo to demand presidential term limits.
The protest videos and footages on social media indicate that the people are so motivated and so ready. They showed so much courage as some of them were pulling out bullets from their bodies. They were daring the regime and the military.
The protestors alleged that they were part of a peaceful movement to reinstate a 1992 constitution that brought in notional multi-party democracy after decades of dictatorship.
But 10 years later, legislators amended it to enable Eyadema to run for another term.
Then, when he died, the military effectively tore up the constitution by installing his son as interim president instead of the head of the national assembly, as was legally required.
The protests that followed Faure Gnassingbe’s first election victory in 2005 triggered a violent security crackdown in which around 500 people were killed.
The protestors also claimed that they are protesting against the arbitrary nature of governance and denial of freedom to assemble.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Felix Engsalige Nyaaba