Togo: Peer Pressure Plus (New Africa prevails)

Africa Focus

Less than a day after the African Union imposed sanctions demanding
a return to constitutional legality in Togo, Faure Gnassingbe
stepped down from the presidential post he had assumed after the
death of his father Gnassingbe Eyadema three weeks ago. Virtually
unanimous condemnation was followed by sanctions from Togo’s West
African neighbors and from the continent-wide organization. This
sent the unmistakable message, in the words of one commentator’s
headline, that there would be “no business as usual for Baby
Eyadema.”
Presidential elections have been promised within two months. As
opposition protesters in Lome clashed with police over the weekend,
however, it was clear that the coming period is unlikely to provide
an easy transition to democracy. While Gnassingbe handed over
interim authority to a newly chosen speaker of the national
assembly, Abass Bonfoh, critics demanded that the post be occupied
by the former speaker Fambare Ouattara Natchaba, as stipulated in
the constitution.
Both the regional West African organization ECOWAS and the African
Union are planning to play an active role in this transitional
period. But their capacity to be effective will depend on whether
there is scope for Togolese citizens and civil society
organizations, as well as political parties, to build a climate for
change that does not descend into political violence. There are
also large Togolese communities living outside the country, both
political exiles and other migrants, who are actively debating
their country’s future.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains the February 25 press release
from the African Union announcing sanctions (now suspended) and a
February 19 position paper from a large coalition of civil society
and diaspora organizations. The paper includes contact information
for the National Congress of the Civil Society (CNSC-Togo) and the
Togolese Diaspora for Democracy and Development (DIASTODE), as well
as other websites (primarily in French) for additional information.
For links to background information, including a country profile
and timeline from the BBC, visit
http://www.africafocus.org/country/togo.php
Ongoing news updates from allafrica.com and IRIN are available at
http://www.africafocus.org/country/togo_news.php
and
http://www.africafocus.org/country/togo_irin.php
The commentary cited above, “No Business as Usual for Baby
Eyadema,” is from the Pan-African Postcard by Tajudeen Abdul-
Raheem, General Secretary of the Pan-African Movement and co-
director of Justice Africa. It is available at
http://www.justiceafrica.org/postcard.htm, as well as on
http://www.pambazuka.org
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AU Condemns ‘Military Coup’, Suspends Togo
African Union (Addis Ababa)
Press Release By Peace and Security Council
February 25, 2005
Addis Ababa
The Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU), at
its twenty-fifth meeting, held on 25 February 2005, adopted the
following decision on the situation in Togo.
Council,
1. Reiterates AU’s strong condemnation of the military coup d’état
which took place in Togo and the constitutional modifications
intended to legally window dress the coup d’état, as well as its
rejection of any election that would be organized under the
conditions enunciated by the de facto authorities in Togo;
2. Demands the return to constitutional legality, which entails the
resignation of Mr. Faure Gnassingbé and the respect of the
provisions of the Togolese Constitution regarding the succession of
power;
3. Confirms the suspension of de facto authorities in Togo and
their representatives from participation in the activities of all
the organs of the African Union until such a time when
constitutional legality is restored in the country and requests the
Commission to ensure the scrupulous implementation of this measure;
4. Endorses the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS on the de facto
authorities in Togo and requests all Member States to scrupulously
implement these sanctions;
5. Mandates ECOWAS, in close coordination with the current Chairman
of the AU and the Chairperson of the Commission, to take all such
measures as it deems necessary to restore constitutional legality
in Togo within the shortest time;
6. Requests the Chairperson of the Commission to formally contact
the United Nations Secretary General and Security Council, the
European Union (EU), the International Organisation of la
Francophonie (OIF) and the other AU partners to lend their
unflinching support to the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS and the
initiatives of African leaders aimed at resolving the crisis
resulting from the coup d’état that took place in Togo;
7. Encourages the AU Commission and the ECOWAS Executive
Secretariat to agree on a mechanism for monitoring strict
compliance with the sanctions against de facto authorities in Togo
and to determine the political measures that need to be taken to
backstop the stabilization and reconciliation process in Togo once
constitutional legality is re-established, including more
specifically the holding of free, fair and all inclusive elections.
In this respect, Council stresses the primacy of the rule of law
and the need for the political leaders of Togo to agree on a
consensual management of the transitional period;
8. Decides to remain seized of the situation and to re-examine it
in light of new developments and the decisions that may be taken by
the de facto authorities in Togo.
*************************************************************
Position Paper of the Togolese Civil Society and Diaspora
Organizations’ on the Political Crisis in Togo
(http://www.diastode.org, February, 2005)
February 19, 2005
The death of Gnassingbe Eyadema on February 5th, 2005, after 38
years in power is a real opportunity for a democratic transition in
Togo. The internal civil society and Diaspora organizations are
mobilized, with the whole population of the country in order to use
efficiently this opportunity. But the decision by the Army to put
in power Faure Gnassingbé, in violation of the national
constitution is an unacceptable situation.
The National Congress of the Civil society and the Togolese
Diaspora for Democracy and Development, in the face of this
situation, called for a general mobilization of the Togolese
society and appealed for support of the international community.
The Current Situation in Togo
Three decades of dictatorship and fifteen years of unsuccessful use
of almost every traditional popular peaceful actions and strategies
for political change have severely exhausted the Togolese
populations and radicalized their attitude to the Eyadema regime.
The death of Eyadema offers a unique opportunity for a long lasting
solution of the political crisis that has paralyzed Togo for almost
four decades and has excluded it from the international community
for over ten years now.
The vast mobilization of the civil society and the Diaspora is
meant to attract the attention of the national and international
community, as well as of the heirs of dictator Eyadema that time
has come for a radical and sustainable resolution of the political
crisis and for an effective ending of dictatorial rule in Togo.
In order to consolidate their illegal power, Faure Gnassingbe and
his accomplices declared a state of emergency, sent out the
military to occupy public spaces, intimidate the populations and
prevent them from uprising and demonstrating. As a consequence, all
the demonstrations that have been organized during the last week
have been impeded or cracked down by the military; the most
remarkable use of the army was that of Saturday February 12th which
killed six civil society activists and wounded hundreds.
Another alarming fact is that the RPT party has started
distributing weapons to its private paramilitary groups and
militiamen commonly known as the death squadrons. The most probable
purpose of this act is to prepare their militia for the execution
of a mass murder plan against the democratic organizations that
will not wait too long: As the international community may well
see; and; drawing lessons from what happened in Rwanda and other
civil war zones of Africa; the situation in Togo is rapidly
deteriorating and may be expected to worsen within days.
Faure Gnassingbe and his junta’s lack of respect for the African
Union, the ECOWAS and the entire international community has
reinforced and justified the Togolese people’s radical rejection of
him and those who want to impose him as the next president of Togo.
As almost every traditional means of political resistance used by
the pro-democracy people’s organizations have failed in face of the
illegal government, one may fear that they be brought to reach/opt
for armed resistance, which is also recognized by article 150 of
our constitution. The Togolese people’s thirst for freedom and
democracy has been repressed to such a degree that leaves them no
other choices than radical positions; for they have come to the
conclusion that only an armed resistance can force Eyadema’s regime
to yield power to the people.
We highly value and appreciate the leading role that the African
Union, ECOWAS and the Nigerian government are playing in the
international condemnation and pressure against the illegal
government, and hope that this will continue under the form of a
military intervention to reestablish constitutional order, should
the illegal government maintain its strategy of terror, human
rights abuses, violation of democratic principles, and their
disrespect for international institutions. By violently repressing
popular pressure for a return to the constitution for a worthwhile
transition, the putsch by Faure Gnassingbe and his aides has
brought the political tension to its highest point since the 1992
general strike.
The Position of the Civil Society and the Diaspora
The internal and external civil society of Togo are not involved in
the power dispute. All they want is a quick and sustainable return
of their country to normality that provides a safe environment for
social, political, and economic life in which fair elections will
be organized, with an army and security force that respects the
constitution and truly protects the population in a stable and
prosperous country within a peaceful West-Africa.
In the face of the acute crisis generated by the coup perpetrated
by Faure Gnassingbe, backed by his group of military supporters,
and their defiant attitude vis-à-vis the national and international
communities, the Togolese people and the African community are
before a series of crucial challenges that have to be dealt with
promptly and efficiently:
1- Convince the authors of the brute coup which constitutes an
insult to Africa and to democracy to reverse and free the way to a
legitimate succession to the late president Eyadema.
2- Protect the Togolese citizens and the West African region from
bloodshed and social unrest induced by the strategy of terror used
by the putchists in their attempt to strangle any protest and the
probable military rebellion it will inevitably pave the way for as
the only alternative mean of opposition.
3- Reform and build a renewed, professional and republican National
Army freed from tribalism, the syndrome of electoral hijacking and
from lack of professionalism.
4- Create an environment for political, economic and social
stability through a legitimate interim government who will favor a
sustainable good governance through an open and fair electoral
system.
5- Implement national reconciliation and forgiveness of all
political crimes perpetrated during the late Eyadema’s regime while
at the same time enforce justice by prosecuting the instigators and
leaders of the killings and the illegal militias as well as their
neocolonial relays and advisors since 4 February 2005, date of the
coup.
The actual situation in Togo, with a putschistic regime
implementing a strategy of terror, defiant of the African community
and leaders and who tries by all means to buy as much time as
possible through diplomatic masquerades, are far from enabling an
effective tackling of the challenges mentioned above by the
national community alone.
It is the reason why the CNSC and DIASTODE, believe that the
West-African, the African and the International communities should
be more involved in the resolution of the crisis and accompany Togo
in facing those 5 challenges through:
1- The use of diplomacy for 15 days from the day of the coup to
convince the coup authors to renounce their action
2- If after 15 days time the illegal government does not renounce
power and keep on killing peaceful demonstrators and implementing
the terror strategy, we believe the only efficient dissuasive and
bloodless means will remain an African Union Military Mission
aiming at securing the premises for a legitimate government,
protecting the civilian population and encouraging the loyal
military personnel to joint the people’s side.
3- Reform and modernize the National Army with the assistance of
the above-mentioned African Union Military Mission, so as to ensure
that the army will not interfere in the electoral process and will
improve in professionalism
4- Establish a National Unity Interim Government comprising all
main political groups including the former ruling party; with the
aim of facilitating the holding of free and fair general elections
organized by a United Nation’s Electoral Mission in Togo and
supervised by ECOWAS, the AU and the EU. The interim government,
whose members should renounce running for upcoming elections,
should be backed by an Interim Parliament inclusive of all
political tendencies.
5- Implement a National Truth and Reconciliation Commission backed
by an African Union Political Support Mission in Togo. However, the
authors of all political crimes perpetrated after 4 February 2005
and their national and international accomplices should be brought
before the relevant national and international tribunals.
Our Organizations
The Togolese civil society is formed by both organizations and
social movements from the country and the Diaspora. This duality is
due to the fact that many activists of the civil society,
persecuted by the regime have been forced into exile. The most
important alliance of non partisan democrats in Togo is formed by
the National Congress of the Civil Society (CNSC-Togo) and the
Togolese Diaspora for Democracy and Development (DIASTODE). For
several years, the two organizations are co-operating for
democratic change in Togo. Their commitment in the social
mobilization facing the new political situation is decisive.
1) The CNSC-Togo
Founded in June 2002, the National Congress of the Civil Society is
a network of NGOs, community development associations, trade
unions, women coalitions, religious groups, students organizations,
etc dedicated to democracy, human rights and development. Since
then, CNSC has taken a leading role in the civic commitment for
democracy. More than 150 organizations are affiliated to the CNSC.
Since its creation, the CNSC has initiated various actions
regarding citizen mobilization for the political change.
– June 2002 May 2003: National Program for citizen mobilization;
– March 2003: International Colloquium on the political crisis in
Togo (Dakar, Senegal);
– June 2003: creation of the CONEL, an Independent National Council
for the Monitoring of the June 2003 presidential elections;
– Since January 2004: civil society’s participation in the
political dialogue;
– January-February 2004: Meeting of the internal civil society and
the Diaspora in Porto Novo, Benin, to elaborate and launch
“Alternative Togo,” a Program for the commitment of the Togolese in
the country and in the Diaspora for a sustainable solution to the
ever drifting political crisis.
2) DIASTODE
The Togolese Diaspora for Democracy and Development was created in
1992 in Hull-Canada, in order to coordinate the Togolese Diaspora
groups. DIASTODE includes organizations from various countries
where the community is important, such as Germany, France, Canada,
USA, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Italy,
Spain, United Kingdom, Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, South Africa,
etc.
DIASTODE has organized several activities, involving the Togolese
Diaspora in the democratization process in Togo.
– Publication of the document, “Pourquoi Eyadema doit partir” (Why
Eyadema must quit power);
– Advocacy and diplomatic actions in favor of the democratic
process in Togo;
– Colloquia, conferences and open discussions on the political
situation in Togo;
– Financial and judicial support for persecuted journalists,
scholars at risk; and human rights activists.
– Financial and logistic support to the CONEL, the Independent
National Council for the Monitoring of the June 2003 presidential
elections
– Financial support to internal civil society congress, for the
implementation of various initiatives toward political change;
– Information and communication of the Togolese and international
opinion.
Since 2003, DIASTODE and CNSC have engaged in common programs for
an effective citizens’ participation in the democratization
process.
Additional References
Valuable information and supporting evidence on the situation in
Togo can be found on the following web sites:
http://www.diastode.org
http://www.togodebout.com
http://www.letogolais.com
http://www.icilome.com
http://www.togoforum.com
http://www.ablodeblibo-togo.com
http://www.amnesty.org
http://www.fidh.org
http://www.afp.fr


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