The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has finally spoken on the political crisis in Togo urging the government and opposition to dialogue on necessary constitutional reforms.
Head of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel Alain de Souza, was in the Togolese capital, Lome, on Wednesday (13 September). During his visit, he met President Faure Gnassingbé and the opposition leaders. The ECOWAS chief also talked with religious leaders.
“We came to meet all the parties,” assured Mr de Souza in a statement on national television later in the evening. “We cannot stay without doing anything, especially as President Faure Gnassingbé is at the same time the president of the conference of ECOWAS heads of state.”
De Souza also disclosed that there was willingness by the parties involved to use dialogue as the way out of the crisis. A position that is contrary to opposition claims that the regime was using dialogue initiative to buy time and stay in power longer.
“From the consultations we had, it appears that there is a will for dialogue, to undertake reforms” demanded by the opposition and many Togolese. The demands stretch back to over a decade – Gnassingbé has been in power for 12 years and has three more years on his current and third term.
The ECOWAS Commission chief further clarified that the reforms in question included the establishment of a “single mandate, which is renewable only once.”
A similar call had been made by a top United Nations official for West Africa and the Sahel region, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, during a meeting with the Togolese president last week. He emphasized the need to reintroduce term limits and address opposition concerns.
The President of the Togolese National Assembly has announced that parliamentarians would begin to examine the constitutional reform draft as requested by the opposition on Friday (15 September).