AFRICA/TOGO - In ever greater numbers Togolese flee the country: at least 10,000 now in Benin and 4,000 in Ghana

Monday, 2 May 2005

Lome (Fides Service)- “The situation at the moment appears calm but the city is patrolled by the army which still has road blocks on all main roads. Few people venture onto the streets or go to work” said local Church sources in Lome capital of Togo, a country facing the most serious crisis in its whole history.
“The shooting has stopped but there seems to be no way out of the crisis because both the regime and the opposition maintain their positions” the local sources told Fides. “uncertainty for the future is pushing more people to seek refuge abroad. Official reports say at least 10,000 Togolese have fled to Benin and another 4,000 have sought safety in Ghana”.
In the meantime the African Union and the Economic Community of West Africa have urged political leaders in Togo to continue on the path of dialogue. This appeal came after representatives of these two African organisations visited Lome last Saturday and Sunday.
Faure Gnassingbé Eyadéma, son of the late President Gnassingbé Eyadema who died in February, and candidate of the party in power in presidential elections held on 24 April, is presently having a series of talks with African heads of state. On 30 April he went to Kinshasa capital of Democratic Congo, and then on to Tripoli in Libya to meet Muammar Gheddafi.
On 28 April the coalition of opposition parties in Togo demanded the cancellation of presidential elections on Sunday 24 April saying there had been massive fraud and thousands of false votes infiltrated in the urns. On 26 April the national electoral commission said the elections had been won by the government party candidate, Faure Gnassingbé Eyadéma, with 60% of the votes compared to 38% gained by the opposition candidate Emmanuel Akitani Bob. Akitani had declared himself president of Togo. The results still have to confirmed by the Constitutional Court.
On the death of his father Faure Eyadéma was installed as head of state by the army after parliament had hastily changed the constitution and dismissed its chairman Famabré Natchaba, who, according to law, should have become interim president. International pressure forced Faure Eyadéma to resign and call an election.
Yesterday Sunday 1 May during his midday address Pope Benedict launched an appeal for peace in Togo: “In these days I think of all the peoples who suffer from war, disease and poverty. In particular today I am close to the dear people of Togo, suffering from painful civil strife. For all these nations I implore the gift of harmony and peace”. (L.M. (Agenzia Fides 2/5/2005 righe 40 parole 465)