If we back down, Faure will be in office until 203o – Opposition
By John Eche
With no let in the determination of the opposition in Togo to back down on its demand that incumbent President Faure Gnassingbe should step down from office, mediators may presently be looking at an Interim Government option as a way out of the continuing political logjam in the French-speaking West African state.
Already, a team of mediators from the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS has held talks with both parties even as the Chairman of the African Union, AU and President of Guinea, Alpha Conde, who has already held talks with Faure has also indicated that he would also be holding another round of talks with the leaders of the opposition.
These mediation sessions are coming in the midst of a growing clamour from within and outside Togo to frontally address the crisis.
At the initial peak of the protests in September, a flustered Eyadema had offered to hold a referendum on constitutional reform that would give in to maximum two-term presidential tenure but insisted it would not be retroactive.
Predictably, the opposition rejected the second part of the proposal, arguing that it would leave Faure free to stand at the next two elections in 2020 and 2025, and given the ‘crafted nature’ of the democratic project in Togo presently, would almost invariably translate into Faure remaining in power until at the least, 2030.
Principally then, the opposition wants the introduction of a two-term limit for presidents and a two-round voting system, to bring an end to more than 50 years of rule by the Gnassingbe family. And for good measure, they do not want Faure to participate in the fresh set of polls!
On Friday, not less than thirteen international and local human rights organisations said the government should immediately take steps to end what it termed “the bloody repression” and talk to those involved in the now lingering face-off.
The call came as thousands of opposition supporters again took to the streets of the capital, Lome, as part of a three day series of fresh marches demanding the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe.
The protests which have been held intermittently for the better part of three months have seen bloody clashes between protesters and the security services, leaving some 16 people dead as at the last count.
Gnassingbé Eyadéma was the President of Togo from 1967 until his death in 2005. He participated in two successful military coups before becoming a civilian President. His son Faure took up the baton after his exit in 2005 and has remained in office since then.
Embattled President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo