Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, the ECOWAS-appointed mediator and facilitator of the ongoing political dialogue in Togo, has called on the government and opposition to “take into consideration the best interest of the nation in order to reach a consensus”.The main protagonists are the Union for the Republic (UNIR – party in power) and those of the 14-member coalition of opposition parties.
Consultations resumed on Friday in the presence of the facilitator, to re-start the dialogue which officially began on February 19 before being suspended on February 23.
The suspension lasted for a month, and in a letter sent on March 14 to the government, the opposition announced that it would take it to the streets from March 20 to 24, with rallies in Lomé and other parts of the country, to press their demands for, among other things, “the cessation of the current electoral process,” and “institutional reforms”, as well as “the fulfillment of the rest of the appeasement measures”, as part of the political dialogue.
The Togolese government subsequently responded by imposing a ban on the planned protests, according to a letter it sent to the opposition.
“Since the measure relating to the suspension of demonstrations during the political dialogue remains in force, the planned marches cannot take place at this time when we all wait for the continuation of discussions in order to normalize Togo’s political situation through dialogue,” read the letter signed by Payadowa Boukpessi, Minister of Territorial Administration, Decentralization and Local Authorities.
A communique issued after the closing of a working session on Friday said the facilitation team has “encouraged the parties not to close the door to the proposals made by each party,” adding that “this would allow the Togolese people to live in peace, security and freedom”.
During the meeting, the government side “agreed to work with the electoral commission to suspend the preparations for elections” as demanded by the opposition since the opening of the dialogue.
A statement issued by the political dialogue facilitation group on Saturday announced that the government in collaboration with the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) has decided to suspend “the preparations for the elections”.
It said the coalition of 14 opposition parties at the last meeting held in February 2018 had asked for, pending the outcome of the dialogue”.
“The cessation of the current electoral process”, and “institutional reforms” are among the demands of the opposition, in “the fulfillment of the rest of the appeasement measures” as part of the political dialogue.
The opposition had threatened to resume the popular protests following the appointment of the president of Independent Local Electoral Commissions (CELI) on March 1, 2018 as part of going ahead with the electoral process by the government.
Togo’s government has been preparing for legislative and local elections to be held this year. The government was also expecting to hold a referendum, following the failure in September 2017 of attempts to amend the country’s constitution.
Togo’s political crisis centers on reforming the constitution and state institutions to satisfy opposition calls for a new democratic dispensation in the country.