Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Togo Army Backs Down on Coup Attempt

According to this BBC News article General Seyi Memene has announced that Togo’s military has agreed to “return the country to constitutional order” after talks with West African leaders from ECOWAS (and a helluva lot of pressure from outside of the country). Now this is very good news and I mean that. Let’s hope that everything goes smoothly for the people of Togo as they stand up for their rights and demand a democratic government elected by the people and for the people as stated (hopefully) in Togo’s constitution.

You may remember that I wrote a brief piece on Togo a few days ago and left a rather lengthy comment on the Ambiguous Adventure blog referring to the two young men in my neighborhood from Togo. I want to tell you that they have stopped talking about “taking up the gun” and just yesterday they were using terms like ECOWAS and ECOMOG and saying “Africans must work together to solve Africa’s problems”. I was a bit surprised that they were even informed about ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) and very surprised that they felt ECOMOG could be of any help to the people of Togo based upon its past history in Liberia back in the ‘90’s. To be fair ECOMOG has improved their act lately in Liberia and Sierra Leonne where I believe they are presently active under a U.N. resolution of one kind or another.

Vincent (one of my friends from Togo) complained “…nobody wants to help us!” but I calmly explained to him that a lot of people and countries want to help the people of Togo and that I am doing it right now, that I personally started more than 2 years ago to talk with my Togolese friends about a political change not only for their tiny nation but for all of Africa. That big changes are coming and it is high time for them to get ready to support a peaceful and meaningful change for Togo. To prepare themselves by continuing and improving their education and access to information and to do the same thing for their people back home.

Vincent agreed with me and he and Justin (my other friend from Togo) are thinking real hard now about what concrete steps they can take to help move their country forward during this window of opportunity. It will be real interesting to see what they do in the next months. Unfortuantely like so many African immigrants living for a time in Europe they have forfeited their citizenship and passports from their native countries in favor of a European passport to ease international travel restrictions for themselves and to be able to take advantage of some social benefits available to European citizens. They have practically no rights whatsoever re: the political affairs in the countries of their birth and they cannot vote. It is a real pity of sorts.

So the BBC article talks of a renewed optimism from the ECOWAS and the international community that there may be a breakthrough in the “misunderstanding of democratic procedures" which has mistakenly put the new president Faure Gnassingbe in power last week.

Kenya Hudson has a nice little article on the problems of opposition parties in Africa as reported by the BBC last December 2004 and I found a very interesting Special Report on the 2003 Togo Elections at the site which provides very good background info on how politics work in the country and how the now deceased former dictator (President) Gnassingbe Eyadema was able to hold onto power back in 2003 after small but important last minute changes to the constitution which basically crippled the oppostition. Compare actions taken before the 2003 elections by the former President of Togo to the recent closing of independent radio and TV stations in the country by the present (interim) administration to get an idea of where this is going.

No wonder the new (interim) President Faure Gnassingbe was grinning like a Cheshire cat on the BBC World News TV report today, he knows he’s got the elections the military is promising will be held within the next 60 days “…in the Bag!”

1 comment:

Mshairi said...

Why would you be surprised that the two young men would know about ECOWAS and that they would want ECOMOG to get involved in solving Togo's problems? ECOWAS plays a strong role in the daily (economic) lives of West Africans while ECOMOG has undertaken good peacekeeping work in differents parts of Africa.