West African leaders have called on Togolese political actors to hold an “inclusive dialogue” to resolve the political crisis in the country. The Summit of Heads of State of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) made the call in Abuja, Nigeria, on Saturday.
The conference expressed its concerns over persistent political tensions and condemned the forms of violence and excesses resulting in loss of life, injury and material damage.
West African leaders welcomed the steps taken by the government of Togo to create an environment conducive to the opening of the national dialogue for the consensual implementation of the desired political reforms.
Thousands of Togolese have protested almost every week since early September, calling for the resignation of the president.
Gnassingbé, who chaired the Summit as the current chair of the regional body, succeeded his father, General Gnassingbé Eyadéma, who led the country for 38 years, in 2005. He has since been re-elected twice in highly disputed elections.
ECOWAS called on the parties to “engage as soon as possible in a broad dialogue in a spirit of compromise (…) for the implementation of political reforms respecting the constitutional order and democratic institutions”.
Togolese hit the streets of the capital Lome in their thousands on Saturday again to protest against President Gnassingbe’s regime.
New head of ECOWAS commission
The Summit approved the appointment of the current Ivorian minister for industry and mines, Prof Jean Claude Brou, as chairman of the commission for a four-year term beginning on 1 March 2018. He will succeed Marcel De Souza of Benin.
ECOWAS leaders reiterated the need for structural and institutional reforms to enable the organization to be more efficient.
With regard to Morocco’s full membership of ECOWAS, Tunisia as observer and Mauritania as an associate member, the Summit set up a committee consisting of the presidents of Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea and Nigerian to supervise an in-depth study of the implications of the accession requests.
In relation to issues relating to peace, security and democracy in the community area, the Abuja meeting reaffirmed their importance for the sustainable economic development of the region.
It expressed its solidarity with the member states affected by terrorism, and praised the positive results of the joint multinational force of the Lake Chad Basin in the fight against the terrorist group Boko Haram, as well as significant progress in the operationalization of the G5 Forces to combat terrorism in the Sahel.
West African leaders regretted the lack of progress in the peace process in Guinea-Bissau despite the decisions taken in June 2017 session in Monrovia, Liberia, and took note of the roadmap presented by the President of Guinea-Bissau, Mario Vaz, for the full implementation of the Conakry agreement, including the appointment of a prime minister of consensus.
They also appreciated the smooth running of the recent general elections in Liberia and urged the two qualified candidates for the second round of presidential elections, George Weah and Joseph Boakai, to conduct a peaceful campaign and to use only legal means to resolve any electoral dispute.
The Abuja Summit expressed its outrage at the inhuman treatment of African migrants and refugees in Libya, and condemned this modern-day slavery. It was committed to working with international partner organizations to put an end to these barbaric practices.
The next summit will be held in Lomé, Togo in June 2018.