Faure Gnassingbe may step down in 2020
By Nsikan Ikpe
After initially ‘huffing and puffing’ that the political opposition had no practical capacity to take him out, at last, the current strongman of the political scene in Togo and successor to the Gnassingbe dynasty, President Faure Gnassingbe may already have begun to eye the exit door even as the family’s 50-year absolute control over the fortunes of the nation is about to come to an end.
This much was gleamed from the flurry of diplomatic engagements that he has presently undertaken within and outside the country, in what political watchers say, is part of a deliberate attempt to negotiate a fairly decent exit package at the end of the process.
Among others, Faure has in the past week held closed door meetings with influential leaders within West Africa such as Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari and Alasane Quattara of Cote d’Ivoire. He has also been in talks with President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, who is head of the mediation team put in place by the regional body, ECOWAS, as well as with President Alpha Conde of Guinea, who also doubles as the current chairmam of the African Union, AU.
Within the country itself, Faure paid a visit to the nation’s second largest city, Sokode, where he reportedly lamented the effects the yet ongoing protests and demonstrations – which began in August – to end his family’s 50-year rule has had on what he termed ‘a once very peaceful city.’ Incidentally, Sokode is the home city of Tikpi Atchadam, the opposition leader and head of the Panafrican National Party (PNP), who is at the forefront of the street demonstrations that have literally paralysed Faure’s administration.
It will be recalled that the older Gnassingbe had come into power after a coup in April 1967 and was succeeded upon his death, and with the active backing of the Togolese military by his son, Faure in 2005.
With no let in the determination of the opposition to back down on its demands that he commit to stepping down from office and not running in subsequent elections even as a new two-term constitutional limit is empanelled for future presidents, analysts say it is only a matter of time now before the eventual statement of capitulation is made by the embattled president.
Already, Faure himself may have begun to set the stage for this when he hinted in the course of his Abidjan visit, that formal talks between his government and the opposition would commence ‘in a matter of weeks.’
President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo