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Togo: Peer Pressure Plus

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Feb 28, 2005 (050228)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

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 AbdulRaheem, General Secretary of the Pan-African Movement and codirector 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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Many thanks to those subscribers who have recently sent in voluntary subscription payments to support AfricaFocus Bulletin. And a reminder to others that this free service depends on those among you who are able and willing to support it. See http://www.africafocus.org/support.php for details.

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

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'‚tat which took place in Togo and the constitutional modifications intended to legally window dress the coup d'‚tat, 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 Gnassingb‚ 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'‚tat 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 Gnassingb‚, 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-…-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

The Joint Delegation

Dany Komla Ayida
Coordinator of CNSC-Togo
Programme Officer, NDI, Central and West Africa
E-mail: dayida@ndi.org or ayida@numibia.net
Tel: +226 50 30 38 50/ 76 52 56 91

Anselme Nahmtante Yabouri
Vice President, DIASTODE, in charge of Africa
Electoral Officer, United Nations' Mission in DRC E-mail: yabouri@un.org or anselmeyabouri@yahoo.fr Tel: +243 8 1960 1881

Kodjo Joel Amovin, PhD
Coordinator, DIASTODE-Canada
Faculty, University of Montreal
University of Concordia,
Montreal Canada
E-mail: amkojo@yahoo.fr or kodjo.amovin@umontreal.ca Tel: +1- 514 739 51 86

Contacts:

CNSC-TOGO
BP 81190 Lome
Tel: +228 905 32 38/ 948 10 64; Fax: +228 221 32 33 E-mail: cnsctogo@yahoo.fr

DIASTODE
C. P. 79043; Hull, (Qu‚bec) J8Y 6V2 Canada
Tel: 1 (819) 776-1613; Fax: 1 (819) 776-3559
E-mail: diastode@diastode.org
Web site: http://www.diastode.org


AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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