Mr Harrison Kofi Belley, a Governance Studies Lecturer, Evangelical Presbyterian University College (EPUC) in Ho, has called on international Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to quickly move to Togo to prevent the escalation of political tension caused by street protests against unlimited tenure of office for presidents.
“The situation there now is bad; the protesters are gathering momentum, so International CSOs must not wait for international bodies. They must quickly move in and engage the parties on universal democratic principles to avoid political instability,” he said. Mr Belley made the call in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) following worldwide political protests by Togolese demanding term limits for presidents. At a similar protest at Atakpame-Sokode, some kilometres from the national capital, Lome, two civilians and seven security persons were reportedly killed. Mr Belley said indications were that, the opposition was poised on “engaging” the military and that though the Africa Union and the United Nations were yet to respond to the “cry of Togolese,” CSOs ought to begin engaging the parties to avoid bloodbath. He said no democracy has an open system for presidents and charged international CSOs to intervene and reverse the trend in Togo because, “it has no place in modern democratic models”. Mr Belley also asked human rights institutions to rescue civilians and the vulnerable from military brutality. “Togo has a poor military-civilian relationship so once the military is involved, abuses are bound to happen. There are already reports of journalists being killed and people disappearing and these must be stopped,” he stated. Dr. Kenneth Aikens, a Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Development Studies, University of Cape Coast, said CSOs could engage the parties in a dialogue on the amendment of the Togolese Constitution to provide for term limits for presidents, “just as most African countries have.” He said that must be done tactfully by experts to ensure a win-win situation. There have been political protests in Togo since 2014 for term limits that will bar President Faure Gnassingbe from seeking another term in office after the Constitution was amended for open term of office for presidents. The Gnassingbe family has been ruling Togo since 1967.