On July 31, 2018, the ECOWAS Conference of Heads of State issued a roadmap aiming to put an end to the crisis in Togo. The organization of parliamentary elections on December 20th, 2018 is one of the most pressing recommendations. However, these elections can only be held following the culmination of a process that should start from the implementation of measures of appeasement, namely the release of political prisoners, the implementation of constitutional and institutional reforms, and the clarification the electoral process as to hold elections that truly measure the real weight of each of the parties that animate the country’s political scene. But, the power of Faure Gnassingbe has been engaged unilaterally in the organization of these elections, ignoring the aforementioned prescriptions. This situation has led the opposition coalition and other democratic and organized bodies such as the church and youth movements to call for an end to this electoral process that will undeniably lead to violence all across the country. This is happening in Togo today with the world witnessing daily repressive practices against peaceful demonstrations which have resulted in several deaths, including that of an 11-year-old boy.This appalling repression takes place under the complacent gaze of the ECOWAS Heads of State. However, it is undeniable that everything that is happening today in Togo is also the responsibility of ECOWAS. The Togolese authorities, for example, argue that ECOWAS had set December 20th as the official date for the organization of parliamentary elections, hence the people must respect this deadline. However, we note with regret that all the prerequisites for organizing free, democratic and peaceful elections have not been implemented. Recently, the constitutional reforms that were proposed by Prof. Alioune Badara Fall, an expert in constitutional law who was recruited by ECOWAS, were thrown into the trash by Faure Gnassingbe’s regime. Unsurprisingly, a statement from the ECOWAS commission stating that “only this proposal is authentic” has not shaken the power into good governance.

The deafening silence of the ECOWAS Heads of State has been heavily criticised in more than one occasion. The Togolese are in a state of shock and confusion evoked by the active complicity between the Heads of State who support this regime to the detriment of the interests of the people. One must wonder about the motive behind this silence in the face of the barbarity suffered by our Togolese brothers and sisters who only want the efficient implementation of ECOWAS’s roadmap. What is clear is that the power of Lome kills the protesters while claiming to respect this same roadmap. Unable to remain indifferent to this situation, concerned activists and the Africans Rising community at large have launched an online petition to challenge ECOWAS’s silent stand on the matter. The main objective is to have the community react quickly and give its position in regards to the tragedy that is currently taking place in Togo.

Through this petition that has collected more than 3000 signatures in a few hours, Africans Rising demands the immediate lifting of the ban on demonstrations. The petition also seeks to urge the Togolese government to refrain from resorting to violence against peaceful protesters. Nevertheless, Africans Rising calls on regional and international bodies to investigate the killing and brutalization of protesters in Togo. It is equally imperative to hold perpetrators accountable for these crimes that fuel violence and instability. The Togolese government must respect and protect the right of its citizens to demonstrate freely and listen to the calls of the democratic forces to postpone the elections in order to avoid further deterioration of the climate. Africans Rising calls on ECOWAS to adopt a resolution postponing the parliamentary elections to avoid chaos in Togo. ECOWAS must also exert the necessary pressure on the Togolese government and clearly condemn the indiscriminate repression of demonstrations which flagrantly violate the ECOWAS protocol of democracy and good governance.

Let us all remember that it was this ambiguous and complacent position of the ECOWAS which allowed the regime of Faure Gnassingbé to assassinate more than a 1000 people in 2005 in his seizure of power. It is to avoid the escalation of the violent ramifications of Gnassingbe’s tyranny that we, the people of Africa, will continue to loudly question ECOWAS’s role in preventing a painful history from repeating itself.

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