Lomé (Agenzia Fides) - "The population is asking for one thing: an alternative. That is because the reality in Togo has been the same for 50 years, the same name, the same family. The people therefore only ask this: give us an alternative to see if this works. I do not think this is an excessive request", says Fr. Elias Sindjalim, a Comboni Togolese missionary working in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in an interview with Agenzia Fides.
Current President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé has been in power since 2005, after succeeding his father Étienne Eyadéma Gnassingbé, who died in that year and had taken power in 1967 with a military coup. Since August, the opposition and civil society have been demonstrating peacefully asking for the resignation of Faure Gnassingbé, who is trying to find constitutional alchemies to remain in power for at least another 10 years.
In September the Bishops had supported popular demands by seeking to re-establish the limit of two presidential mandates established by the 1992 Constitution (see Fides 18/9/2017).
"The Church was clear: the Bishops' Conference of Togo clearly stated that what the people ask is a legitimate request that needs to be welcomed", comments Fr. Elias. The Comboni says he feels hopeful because "when people take destiny in their hands there is hope. The fight may be long, but the victory will be ours. I would like to emphasize that the popular protest is peaceful".
"The government has proposed to open dialogue", continues the missionary. "Civil society agrees to dialogue but remembers that there have already been so many negotiations that have led to nothing and now popular pressure continues to push so that this time we get real results and obtain a real change".
The Democratic Republic of Congo is also experiencing a similar situation. President Josesph Kabila's second and last mandate expired on December 20, 2016, but he is still in power. Presidential election pressures were set for December 23, 2018.
We ask Fr. Elias if there are similarities between the situation in Togo and the DRC.
"Togo and the Democratic Republic of Congo have different stories, but both tell us that the common destiny of African peoples is to take their destiny in their hands", the missionary replies. I think no one will come from outside Africa to give us what we are looking for. And that is what the Congolese and Togolese people are saying: let us take destiny in our hands; do not leave us prisoners in this situation", he concludes. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 16/11/2017)