Suicide elections in Togo

Togo’s Interior Minister, Esso Boko, last night called for a suspension of the “suicidal electoral process” of his country – and was promptly sacked by his boss, Interim President Abass Bonfoh.

The BBC’s Elizabeth Blunt in Togo says Mr Boko is a former military man and a political heavyweight, whose ministry is responsible for conducting the election.

She says the timing of the events was “extraordinary” – just two days before the polls.

At his news conference, called at 0200 local time, Mr Boko produced a seven-page document setting out his plan for a government of national unity to last for one or two years and with a prime minister, drawn from the ranks of the opposition, serving under the president. – BBC, 22 April, 2005.

The runup to Sunday’s elections in Togo has been marred by violent clashes between the supporters of the ruling RPT and supporters of the increasingly desperate opposition. The opposition sees this election as an opportunity to get Togo out of the stranglehold of the RPT. But the entrenched power elites, which include much of the military leadership in Togo, are taking no chances. They have the vast fortunes of the ruling family at their disposal, as well as a well-armed military and the support of the French government. RPT thugs have been terrorizing the country for weeks, and the ruling party has launched a massive smear-campaign against the opposition leaders.

The opposition in Togo, for its part, is gearing up for a major fight. With the international community nowhere in sight, Togo, I am afraid, is going to see some very rough times. The RPT has a vested interest in destabilizing Togo. A scared people won’t vote, or if they vote, they might be too scared to vote for the opposition. Violence and unrest in the country will serve as an excuse to unleash the military onto the opposition, as they did in the early 90s during the big strikes.

The international community and especially the ECOWAS (CEDEAO in French) is also going to suffer a major loss of credibility with the Togolese people, and all who support their right to self-determination. Togo needs peacekeepers, international observers and more time to prepare for elections. This is a country that is trying to emerge from the iron fist of a 38-year oppressive dictatorship in 60 days! Togo needs intervention from the ECOWAS/CEDEAO, but they have turned a blind eye to the situation in Togo, ignoring the track record of past fraudulent “elections,” ignoring the current climate of fear and the threat of violence in Togo. Olivier Bocco, at the LeTogolais points out that the ECOWAS is ignoring the fact that every single government department or agency in Togo that has anything to do with the election is stocked with RPT people: from the Ministry of the Interior, the Constitutional Court, and the Election Commission to the Communications Authority. Heck, they make Florida look like a democracy …

La CEDEAO a, en effet, opté pour la stratégie qui consiste à fermer les yeux et les oreilles devant les manipulations grossières de la liste électorale, la distribution partiale des cartes d’électeurs, la soumission inconditionnelle au pouvoir RPT de tous les organes chargés de la gestion des élections : ministère de l’intérieur, Cour constitutionnelle, Commission nationale électorale indépendante, Haute autorité de l’audiovisuel. Les représentants de la CEDEAO ont décidé de ne pas être au courant de cette situation, qui n’est pourtant pas nouvelle au Togo. Et ils le proclament urbi et orbi. Ils ont décidé d’ignorer le climat de terreur et de violences meurtrières qui a marqué le processus préparatoire aux élections. Ils ont décidé d’oublier qu’au Togo, depuis une quarantaine d’années, il n’y a jamais eu d’élections libres et démocratiques. – A la veille des élections présidentielles tronquées au Togo : la responsabilité de la CEDEAO, Olivier Bocco, LETOGOLAIS.COM – 20/04/2005.

The crisis in Togo has been called a test case for democracy in Africa. Togo is most certainly a test case for the effectiveness and independence of the ECOWAS/CEDEAO. And right now this organization has its head firmly planted in the sands on the Bay of Benin.

Comments are closed.