Togo Risks Be­ing Plunged Into A Civil War

• As Cit­i­zens Bat­tle To Dethrone Eyadema Fam­ily’s Strong­hold • Abuja, France Should Step In

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - COVER -

trans­par­ent, free and fair. There is this con­tra­dic­tion in France for­eign pol­icy to its colonies. On one hand, French lead­er­ship sup­ports multi-party sys­tem and rule of law, but on the ground in the colonies, those prin­ci­ples are not im­ple­mented. And be­cause the late Eyadema had friends across dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal for­ma­tions in France, he was able to get away with it, which is why they are in this cri­sis now. Is the Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity Of West African States (ECOWAS) not a con­trib­u­tor to the cri­sis, as one would have ex­pected that they would step in to en­sure com­pli­ance with the 2016 con­sti­tu­tion re­view and get­ting the Assem­bly’s back­ing?

Of all ECOWAS coun­tries, Nige­ria is the most in­flu­en­tial. It has the big­gest econ­omy; big­gest mil­i­tary force and you see what Nige­ria did in The Gam­bia. But Nige­ria has never done that for Togo. Ghana wanted to, but it does not have the po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary clout to deal with To­golese suc­ces­sion cri­sis. Nige­ria has al­ways been silent. The lit­tle Nige­ria did was to say that elec­tion must hold, when Obasanjo was in of­fice. It did not go far to say that a con­sti­tu­tion must be in place for a two-term max­i­mum. If that had been done, the is­sue would not have hap­pened.

In the geo-po­lit­i­cal con­fig­u­ra­tion of ECOWAS, mem­bers will only go the way Nige­ria goes and this has been demon­strated. Nige­ria is the high­est fi­nan­cial con- trib­u­tor and ECOWAS head­quar­ters is in Nige­ria. It is only when Nige­ria moves that oth­ers fol­low and that is what hap­pened with The Gam­bia. Sene­gal could not do any­thing.

Are you say­ing some forces within Nige­ria are con­tribut­ing to the cri­sis in Togo?

Yes, I will say so. This is be­cause un­like in The Gam­bia’s case, when we said no, we didn’t want this, no ac­tion is be­ing taken on Togo. We in­ter­vened in Liberia and Sierra Leone, when their in­ter­nal crises was about to spill over, but when it comes to Togo, there are some in­ter­nal forces in Nige­ria that are friendly and in sup­port of Eyadema’s regime.

And what do you think is the in­ter­est? There is a very pow­er­ful To­golese po­lit­i­cal lobby in the Nige­rian po­lit­i­cal land­scape. And do not for­get that the late Eyadema was one of the founders of ECOWAS. He had been friends with Gowon and suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments after Gowon. Maybe, his son does not have that in­flu­ence, but the father had.

What is the fu­ture of To­golese po­lit­i­cal land­scape? There was a time the father had is­sues just like the son is hav­ing now, but the for­mer got away with it. Are we go­ing to have a re­peat?

When a cri­sis starts and it is not re­solved fun­da­men­tally, it dis­ap­pears tem­po­rar­ily, but reap­pears again. That is what is hap­pen­ing in Togo, and if care is not taken, that coun­try will go into a civil war. It is time for ECOWAS to step in, to say look, let us do this: Faure Eyadema is at the end of his se­cond term, so let us have a new con­sti­tu­tion that says any pres­i­dent can stay in power for a pe­riod of five years and not re­new­able after a se­cond term. If this is done now, they can now ne­go­ti­ate a set­tle­ment for Faure to con­test again, but will not re-con­test again after this last out­ing. This could be done as a mid­dle of the road agree­ment and then the place will calm down. And it will be made clear that, if he con­tests and wins, he will not re­turn again and this will break the Eyadema’s fam­ily strong­hold on the coun­try. If not, the cri­sis may be­come so bad that the coun­try may im­plode. There is need to have a mid­dle of the road agree­ment.

The sit-tight syn­drome is the norm in Africa. Look­ing at Faure’s ref­or­ma­tion pos­ture, when he as­sumed power, don’t you think see­ing pre­vi­ous lead­ers be­fore re­tained power at all cost en­cour­aged him to also want to stay put?

He de­ceived the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ties and Africa. He gave the im­pres­sion that one of the things he wouldn’t do is be­have like his father. But you only know

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