The Ghana Chapter of the ECOWAS Community Development (ECOWAS CDP) Media Network condemns the raging political violence in Togo which has claimed two lives and left hundreds injured.
While citizens have the right to protest, the response from the government suggests the contrary.
Protestors had called for the restoration of the country’s 1992 constitution, which imposes limits on the tenure and term for the presidency.
The counter attacks by government defeats the purpose of a growing democracy and rather portrays Africa as a continent where democracy and rule of law exist only on paper and not in reality.
Civil unrests create social and economic inequalities, widens poverty gap and leaves women, children and the physically challenged in extremely vulnerable positions.
Women and children are likely to be displaced and subsequently forced to take refuge in neighbouring countries if the peace is not restored.
The death of the two protestors is also likely to widen the poverty gap in their respective families, while the injured will continue struggle for survival, nursing their wounds and the scars usually remain with them for life.
Infrastructure and systems built over the years could also be destroyed if immediate steps are not taken to arrest the conflict in time.
Similarly, intra-regional trade between Togo and other countries within the ECOWAS sub-region could suffer severely, a situation that could lead to the loss of livelihoods of the majority of citizens who could be trading on the commodity markets or engage in transit trade.
The CDP Network believes that while the protests are within the rights of the people, the President of Togo and his political allies are expected to protect the very people they seek to govern, and since he cannot govern an empty country without its people, immediate steps should be taken to safeguard the peace of that country.
It is indeed sad that the country whose leader presently heads the ECOWAS community had found himself in this unfortunate situation and as such, the Media Network appeals to President Faure Gnassingbe, the Togolese security forces and opposition parties to dialogue and reach compromises that could ensure calm.
The Network also wishes to appeal to ECOWAS and the African Union (AU) to take immediate steps to ensure that the parties append their signatures to a peace accord that could make them liable in the event of further explosion of violence.
The Network further appeals to all shadow parties, interest groups and political parties to refrain from influencing, encouraging or aiding the perpetrators of violence and heinous crimes and also cease providing them with weapons and monies for their parochial interests. The Network expresses its condolences to relatives of victims of the protests.
The CDP Network urges civil society groups and faith based organisations and other stakeholders to intensify advocacy campaigns on the values of multi-party democracy and the need for people to live in a free world.
The Chapter also wants to use this platform to recall and draw attention to recent terror attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire etc. These and many incidents of violence are clear indication of the vulnerabilities of countries in the sub-region and the need to foster closer ties in order to remain alert through unified intelligence and force. We again call for an urgent regional leadership and joint regional security forces meetings to discuss the threats and seek permanent joint cooperation in dealing with the growing menace.
The network also expresses its profound condolences to the government and people of Sierra Leone in the wake of the mudslide which killed 450 people and displaced thousands of Sierra Leoneans.
Della Russel Ocloo (Ms)
Programmes Coordinator
ECOWAS CDP Media Network (Ghana Chapter)