Everything started on the evening of August 19th with its architect, Tikpi Atchadam. He beat the odds and successfully organised street demonstrations in multiple regions of the country and simultaneously within Togo’s diaspora.
The population, which has been fighting for decades, has gained new life thanks to its party, the “Parti National Panafricain” (National Pan African Party), which is sending out a rallying cry for people to come together around two main goals:
A revival of the 1992 constitution with, as a consequence, the withdrawal of power from Mr Faure Gnassingbé as well as the right to vote for Togo’s diaspora.
These are the cries of hundreds of thousands of Togolese in the streets of Lomé. As the crisis is getting worse, fourteen opposition parties have formed a coalition in order to pool their resources and unite their actions for a common goal.
The coalition’s errors have been ingrained in the Togolese opposition movement for the past twenty-five years.
The coalition has allowed itself to be shut into a nonsensical dialogue process driven by the CEDEAO. This same CEDEAO has already been painted in a bad light by encouraging the international community to support the monarchy’s royal succession, which allowed Faure Gnassingbé to succeed his father, President Eyadema Gnassingbé, despite hundreds of lives being lost in protest to the accession.
Discredited and no longer trustworthy, the CEDEAO has nonetheless succeeded in enclosing the opposition in a dialogue process and forcing it to cancel street demonstrations. This is a very costly tactical error and this “over-politeness” that it showers on the CEDEAO is clearly undeserved.
The result of the CEDEAO’s mediation process proves those who wanted to continue the protests right. It must be noted that certain parties within the coalition did not adhere to the mediation process – a process whose only goal was to bring calm to the streets. But they were in the minority and were not listened to.
One year later, the CEDEAO’s mediation, has turned into a fiasco
After a year of the CEDEAO’s mediation, the result has turned into a fiasco for the opposition, who must now learn its lesson.
Political detainees are still being held in prison by the regime, which is in direct violation of the famous CEDEAO roadmap, and mediators have not lifted a finger. Better still, the country’s citizens are still being beaten and arrested according to the will of the regime. If the “grand” CEDEAO is not capable of liberating arbitrarily imprisoned citizens, how can it make this defiant alternating regime listen to reason when it has always supported it?
The reforms set out by the roadmap have not been instituted and yet the CEDEAO would like to see parliamentary elections organized for December 20th, 2018. With what magic? It, alone, knows.
Still, through its complicity with the CEDEAO, the regime of Mr Faure Gnassingbé is unilaterally going on with this electoral process – a process that is biased, contaminated and proof that the elections are fixed, an area of expertise for the Togolese authorities.
The opposition coalition has found itself trapped, once again, by Togo’s monarchy, with, for the umpteenth time, support from the CEDEAO and the international community.
In light of this, it is imperative that the coalition stops deviating from its course and focuses on its central goals – goals for which people are still mobilized and determined.
The people of Togo have never taken to the streets to demand fixed elections according to the will of a defiant, alternating regime who enjoys support from acolytes like the CEDEAO and the world’s powerful. The people who are demonstrating demand an end to Faure Gnassibé’s regime and are forcefully opposed to a fourth term for Eydema’s son.
Thus, those parties within the coalition who are losing this goal from view in hopes of participating in some election, would be better off giving up on this illogical and unrealistic goal. That, at this stage of the coalition, we would be forced to vote in order to avoid falling into an electoral model that is at the diametric opposite of the hopes of those who are demonstrating, is unfortunate and troubling for the struggle.
The people and their struggle are no longer willing to accept the repeated errors on the part of the opposition’s political class that, for decades, has tended to lose sight of the forest for the trees. To put the main goal of the Togolese – getting rid of this hideous regime – on hold, for the pleasure of some comic political figures is inadmissible.
The international conspiracy of which Togo has been a victim since the coup d’état of 1963, is being demonstrated once again, and with this knowledge, the coalition who does not measure the scope of the profound aspiration of its people, must be reassessed and remain focused around its goals: the revival of the constitution of 1992 with all of its consequences and the right to vote for Togo’s diaspora.