Kolowarè (Agenzia Fides) - National political dialogue among the various political parties in Togo has begun in Lomé: the government and the coalition of the 14 opposition parties, which organized demonstrations almost every week for five months, demanding the resignation of President Gnassingbé and the return to the 1992 Constitution, confront each other. The Catholic Church accompanies the process by praying and pledging for peace. While the negotiating table will resume in three days, the Episcopal Conference of Togo (CET) has announced a week of prayer from 16 to 23 February, with the aim of "opening serious perspectives for the end of the crisis". As Fides learns, in an open letter, the Bishops have invited the entire population to all the parishes of Togo to participate in a special 24-hour Eucharistic Adoration on 23 February, and to organize a week of the Via Crucis. "In Kolowarè, we will hold an hour of specific prayer for three days", said Father Silvano Galli, of St Leon IX parish in Kolowaré to Fides.
The letter signed by the president of CET, Mgr. Benoît Alowonou, urges the faithful to join Pope Francis in communion, who convened a special prayer on 23 February for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the world, to "urge God to convert the hearts, especially those who hold the fate of these countries and those involved in any way". Also the Archbishop emeritus of Lomé, Mgr. Philippe Kpodzro, spoke about the crisis, asking "the rehabilitation of the 1992 Constitution in its entirety, with all its legal implications".
Among the leaders of the Catholic Church, Fr. Pierre Marie-Chanel Affognon who, in a message addressed to Catholic political leaders, declared: "It is urgent for every politician, for every man and woman of good will, to assume their responsibilities by working more for social peace, which necessarily implies social justice, the rule of law and democracy". "Love for the truth must never leave the political debate", added Fr. Affognon, encouraging the participants "to renounce pride, lie, egocentrism that destabilized the coexistence and the integral development of our country".
The Togolese priest also recommended politicians to take account of the Church's social doctrine in the governance of the country.
On 19 February, at the opening ceremony of the dialogue session called "Lomè 2018" the president of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo emphasized his neutrality, his role as facilitator, and his desire to see Togo grow towards the rule of law. "This is the challenge of our generation in Africa and it is important for us leaders to solve national problems, because this will foster the progress and well-being of our people", said Nana Akufo-Addo. During the plenary session, the various parties gave priority to discussing "peaceful measures and creating a climate of trust".
The coalition of 14 opposition parties, has joined the suspension of demonstrations pending the outcome of the dialogue. The main demands of citizenship remain: the return to the 1992 Constitution; the revision of the electoral framework with the right to vote for the Togolese abroad; the release of the institutions of the Republic and the release of all political prisoners. (SG/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 21/2/2018)