Opposition insists on release of political prisoners
By Nsikan Ikpe
Former archbishop of Lome, Philippe Fanoko Kpodzro, has said that any plan by Togolese President, Faure Gnassingbe to remain in office after his current term of office comes to a close in 2020 would be plainly diabolical.
The man of the cloth who retired as the Catholic Archbishop of Lome made his view public recently even as he equally called for a dignified handling of Faure’s exit from power.
Kpodzro, a notable public commentator in Togo, had moderated the 1991 National Conference talks in the country.
Veteran politician, Sylvanus Olympio had also made similar recommendations weeks ago, pointedly asking President Faure, whom his party is in a coalition government with, to not consider running for office any longer.
Discussions between the government and the opposition over a crushing spate of protests that has literally crippled activities in the country are being moderated by ministers from Ghana and Guinea on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS and the African Union, AU.
As part of its conditions precedent to commencing discussions on the substantive issues at stake, the opposition is insisting on a release of all of its sympathisers that had been detained in the course of the seven-month protests to end 51 years of dictatorship by the Gnassingbe family.
The Togolese army, Faure’s greatest backer, has also weighed in on the ongoing crisis situation, pledging its loyalty to the Faure government.
In their reaction, an opposition source responded that they did not find the remarks of the security forces as anything unexpected given that the security services had played a major role in Faure’s emergence as president as well as his continued and sustenance in office through the years.
Embattled President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo