Togo has been a hotbed of violence in the last few months after series of demonstrations led by 14 opposition parties. An estimated 100,000 protestors hit the streets late last year demanding the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe who succeeded his late father in 2005. His father, Gnassingbe Eyadema had been in power for 38 years, meaning the Gnassingbe’s have been around for 51 years.
At least 16 people were confirmed dead with dozens injured in clashes between angry demonstrators and military officers loyal to President Faure Gnassingbe. The protestors are threatening another demonstration in the coming days if their demands are not heeded to, as the nation begins a dialogue this week.
A period of Transition in Africa
Former President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, plagued by years of corruption scandals, complied with ruling party orders to step down on Wednesday, February 14. The next day, embattled Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn unexpectedly resigned, citing a desire to allow “reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy.” Not long before this string of resignations, former President of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos, longest serving African president and former president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe, oldest African President, both left office in 2017.
Few expect concrete results after Dialogue in Togo
The Togolese government and opposition finally decided to convene on Monday for a last resort at dialogue. Discussions supposed to resolve the political crisis that has been going on for six months.
Since the advent of multiparty politics in the early 1990s, some 15 dialogues and talks have been held in Lomé, without ever leading to a political transformation.
The reform of presidential mandates and the voting system, already provided for in the 2006 Comprehensive Political Agreement, has never been carried out, despite the fact that it was meant to appease a country frustrated by the violence following the election of Faure Gnassingbé.
On the eve of the opening of the dialogue, suspense remained over the agenda and the stakeholders in the discussions, as the demands of the opposition changed.
According to Togolese human rights activist Farida Nabourema they have shifted from the return of the 1992 constitution to ‘Faure Must Go’, meaning people are no longer just protesting for constitutional reforms or term limits.
However, in recent weeks Faure Gnassingbé‘s party has reiterated in the local media that it would be “out of the question” to discuss the immediate departure of the Head of State or a commitment on his part to leave power.
Reports also say that the opposition political parties are demanding the release of all political prisoners as a condition for the engagement.
Ghanaian President in Togo for talks
International mediators have been expected in Togo for weeks following months of protests against the government and the president.
After meeting the two feuding factions separately, Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo has assumed a mediating role fully recognized by the factions. He left Ghana for Togo Sunday to help bring lasting peace to the neighbouring country. The first dialogue was held Monday, between the two factions and Ghana’s president.
A spokesperson for the Togolese government, Charles Konde Agba thanked the president of Ghana and his Guinean counterpart for their roles in ensuring peace in Togo. He said the government is coming to the dialogue with an open mind and with tolerance hoping to find a lasting solution to the problem.
The leader of the Coalition of political parties Jean Piere said over half a century, Togo has had bad governance and is demanding a return to the 1992 constitution. He said they have mobilized around the country and across the diaspora to demonstrate their rejection of dictatorship and demand a return to the 1992 constitution in its original version.
Ghana’s president implored the leaders of the two factions to exhibit a spirit of compromise in order to bring lasting peace to Togo.