President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana is in Lome, Togo trying to facilitate peace talks aimed at resolving the ongoing political crisis in that country.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) recently mandated President Akufo-Addo to engage the feuding parties in the violent political crisis that engulfed Togo, Ghana’s immediate neighbor.
Togolese President, Faure Gnassingbè who is the chairman of ECOWAS, has witnessed a series of protests by opposition parties who are calling for a return to the country’s constitution, which imposes limits on presidential terms.
In February this year, President Akufo-Addo facilitated a meeting together with other African leaders aimed at finding a lasting solution to the political impasse in Togo.
After the meeting, Togolese government and the Coalition of 14 Opposition political parties agreed to implement a number of measures aimed at building trust and confidence amongst the political actors in Togo.
The negotiations are seen as vital to end the political crisis plaguing the country since August 2017, but a number of obstacles persist. On the one hand, the 14 opposition parties favour a restricted dialogue with the government under the auspices of the international community. For them, the ultimate objective of the dialogue is to define the conditions for Gnassingbé’s departure and a return to the 1992 constitution.
The governing party on the other hand wants the dialogue to be initiated and led by the government and extended to other political actors. The government’s overall goal is the organisation of a referendum. To recall, the contested referendum bill announced in September 2017 by the government proposes a two-term limitation of the mandate of the country’s president and deputies, and a two-round poll.
Some progress seems to have been made from the talks since January this year; these include the release of over 40 people arrested during protests. In return, the opposition has agreed to suspend protests for the duration of talks.
But the opposition wants constitutional changes and ultimately for President Faure Gnassingbe to step down. While the government hopes for an agreement on political and institutional reforms, it however refuses to discuss the president’s future. President Gnassingbe has been in power since 2005.
By ADR Daily Newsdesk