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File photo of Nicodème Anani Barrigah-Benissan, the Bishop of the Diocese of Atakpamé File photo of Nicodème Anani Barrigah-Benissan, the Bishop of the Diocese of Atakpamé 

Togolese Bishops decry the lack of political reforms

The Catholic Bishops of Togo have called for national constitutional and institutional reforms in view of parliamentary elections scheduled for 20 December, this year. This would be in keeping with the roadmap of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Agenzia Fides– Lomè, Togo

The call by the Togolese Bishops emanates from their just ended plenary assembly of the Conférence épiscopale du Togo (CET), which saw the prelates gathered in Lomé and Aného from 12 to 16 November. The Bishops took time to address themselves to the socio-political situation prevailing the in the country.

If the system does not change, the problems will remain the same

In a statement released at the end of their third ordinary session for 2018, the CET expressed concern about the electoral process in the manner it is being conducted by the electoral body, the  Commission électorale nationale indépendante (CENI)

"It is obvious that the conduct of the elections without the necessary reforms will not solve the challenges facing the Togolese people but will, in fact, exacerbate tension and violence," reads part of the statement.

According to the Bishops, Togo needs "a radical change in governance and in the way the country does its politics, because no matter who will be in charge of our nation; if the system does not change, the problems will always remain the same," the Bishops conclude.

The Bishops urge adherence to the ECOWAS roadmap

The Togolese Bishops further say that "the unilateral preparation for the elections (underway), violates some provisions contained in the ECOWAS roadmap and risks bringing the country back into the chaos (of past elections)."

The ECOWAS Conference of Heads of State and Government published, at the end of July this year, a roadmap meant to help Togo navigate its way out of the current political crisis towards stability.

The Coalition of Opposition political parties, in Togo, at the origin of demonstrations that have shaken the country, for more than a year now, have also denounced irregularities in the organisation of the pending polls. As a result, the Coalition, composed of 14 political parties, is boycotting participation in the CENI, where ordinarily they would have had representatives.

"For decades, the struggle for freedom, democracy, political alternation and reconciliation in our country have not succeeded because of the bad faith of political actors, more concerned with their personal interests than with the common good," the Bishops also say in their statement.

On 9 November the government adopted a constitutional reform project that includes presidential elections and provides for the possibility of two more presidential mandates. In September 2017 the parliamentary opposition rejected the text that would allow President Faure Gnassingbe to extend his mandate possibly from 2020 and even into 2025. He has already been in power, as President, since 2005, after the death of his father, who had ruled the country for 38 years.

22 November 2018, 18:39