AFRICA/TOGO - part of the country wants “a return to constitutional rules to allow the country to vote”

Wednesday, 9 February 2005

Lome (Fides)- Protest on the part of the Opposition continues in Togo with two days of “dead country” with schools, offices and shops closed. Togo has still not recovered after the death of President Gnassingbe Eyadema and coming to power of his son Faure Gnassingbé Eyadema proclaimed president with the backing of the army after parliament made a quick change in the constitution sacking its own chairman Famabré Natchaba who should have taken over as interim head of state according to the laws in force.
“What has happened is ridiculous. We cannot accept this shame. We will oppose with every means this attempt to confiscate power. We call on the people to organise protests” said Jean Pierre Fabre, secretary general of the main opposition party led by Gilchrist Olympio son of Togo’s first President Sylvanus Olympio assassinated in January 1963. “The army must not interfere in politics and it must not upset political life. We must return to constitutional law to allow the country to vote. This has been a military coup” said Leopold Gnininvi, leader of the other opposition party the Convention Démocratique des Peuples Africains (CDPA).
On the basis of constitutional amendments the new President will stay in office until June 2008. “The authorities have taken measures to prevent the people from staging protests and denouncing the coup. The Eyadema regime was a reign of terror. But I fear we will continue to live in fear for some years to come. The future of our country is in danger” said a representative of the organisation “Rights and Duties in Democracy”.
Episodes of violence and mysterious disappearances of members of the opposition characterised the recent past in Togo. For more than a decade the country has suffered a serious economic and social crisis aggravated by the suspension of economic aid by the European Union. This national crisis is being examined by the African Union and the Economic Community of West African countries. (H.T.B) (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 9/2/2005 righe 31 parole 352)