Togolese Civil League calls for intervention in country's crisis

Togolese Civil League calls for intervention in country's crisis

- The political turmoil in Togo is still ongoing at the moment

- This has prompted the Togolese Civil League to intervene through advocacy

- The league wants Nigeria and regional body, ECOWAS to intervene in the lingering political crisis in the small West African nation

The Togolese Civil League has called for the intervention of Nigeria and regional body, ECOWAS, in the lingering political crisis in Togo.

The call was made during a press briefing by the group on Friday, April 27, in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.

The group stated that ECOWAS member countries should be concerned about the Togolese political crisis, “because Togo is experiencing an unprecedented sociopolitical crisis marked by street protests, strikes and a slowdown in economic activities.”

Togolese Civil League calls for intervention in country's crisis

Nabourema called for intervention of Nigeria and ECOWAS as a body in the Togo's political crisis. Photo credit: YIAGA

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Speaking on behalf of the group, its Executive Director, Farida Bemba Nabourema, said in the aftermath of the violent government response to the protests, dozens of people lost their lives, hundreds were injured or thrown in jail and many more are displaced.

Her words: “In addition, the Togolese government led by Faure Gnassingbé has organized a methodical campaign to shut down its opposition, reduce freedom of expression and silence the civil society.

“Nevertheless, the people of Togo continue to relentlessly protest the government and are demanding political reforms that can lead to a democratic political transition.”

She lamented that unlike all the other countries in West Africa, Togo has yet to experience a democratic transition.

“The country has been under the rule of the Gnassingbé family since 1967. The absence of term limits and the total control of the government over the judicial and electoral systems have virtually made any transfer of power impossible.

“The people of Togo are yearning for a democratic transition that would foster social progress and economic growth. Past elections have been tainted with violence and, without meaningful reforms, future electoral processes are likely to escalate,” she said.

She noted that a sustained political crisis in Togo is a factor of instability in the regions, stressing that there are currently hundreds of displaced Togolese citizens in Ghana because of the recent government repressions.

“In addition, Togo constitute a peculiar example of government in the region as it is reminiscent of the 1980s. The rule of law across the region is a factor of integration and peace, both essential to create a serene climate for business,” she added.

On the current prospects for resolution of the crisis, Nabourema said there has been no meaningful progress in talks between the government and the opposition, adding that this is due to the Togolese government’s refusal to meet the basic demands of freeing political prisoners.

“The continued repression, the denial of basic rights including freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are creating conditions for violent confrontation in the country. Prospects for a peaceful resolution are grim unless the ECOWAS community takes swift action to pressure the Togolese government,” she said.

She urged the Nigerian government to exercise its influence as a regional power to insist that the Togolese government respond to the will of the people.

She also counseled ECOWAS to consider economic sanctions and targeted restrictions against Togolese officials due to their alleged ongoing violation of human rights.

In 2007, Togolese president, Faure Gnassingbé (who succeeded his deceased father through a bloody ascent to power) entered into an agreement with the opposition parties to conduct a set of political reforms including terms limits.

Ten years after the agreement, the promises have never been fulfilled, prompting the people of Togo to hit the streets demanding simply the reinstatement of the original 1992 constitution that was unilaterally modified.

Through political maneuvering and violent repression, the senior Eyadéma and his ruling party managed to modify the constitution in 2002. The session of the National Assembly modifying the constitution was solely composed on members of the ruling party.

These modifications removed terms limits and instituted a single round ballot along with giving more power to the president and weakening the legislative and the judiciary .

The Nigerian government has remained largely silent on the crisis in Togo.

Founded in April 2017, the Togolese Civil League through its Faure Must Go Campaign, aims to demonstrate the illegitimacy and nefarious nature of the current Togolese government and encourage civil resistance to overcome more than half a century of dictatorship.

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Meanwhile, digital rights experts have called for the replication of Nigeria’s Digital Rights and Freedom Bill by other African countries.

The bill which was recently passed by the National Assembly was praised by experts as a step in the good direction in strengthening digital rights on the continent.

The experts made the call at the 6th Internet Freedom Forum, an international conference organised by Paradigm Initiative, which was held in Abuja.

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