An opposition leader in Togo, Ayao Nichodeme Habia, has taken refuge in the Ghanaian High Commission in Togo as he embarks on an indefinite hunger strike over the current political turmoil in that country.
The Party of Democrats leader who is on his seventh day of the hunger strike says he wants President Nana Akufo-Addo to fast-track the mediation process in the political impasse between President Faure Gnassingbe and the other opposition political parties.
President Akufo-Addo is currently leading a mediation of what has become a fight for the restoration of the Togolese Constitution of 1992, but Mr. Habia told the media, progress is slow.
He said the reason for the hunger strike “in front of the Ghana Embassy is because our first facilitator is President Akufo-Addo and I’m doing this to tell him to put pressure on our government.”
He further explained that his hunger strike is premised on two issues which include the arrest of some people in Togo with some being in prison for close to a year, and the refusal of Gnassingbe to organise a fair and transparent election despite a directive from ECOWAS.
“I’m protesting because of two things, the first thing is that the people who were arrested during the demonstration and also from civil society, those people are in prison some for close to a year. When President Nana Akufo-Addo started the dialogue with us in Togo, the first thing we asked him was to tell Faure Gnassingbe to release all the prisoners but the government did not release them.”
“Secondly, we have the roadmap that ECOWAS has given us to follow and organise fair and transparent election in Togo. But this government as far as we know, they don’t want to do anything. And they don’t also want to respect the preamble which is to release those prisoners,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo met with political parties in Togo in March 2018 to mediate in the seeming political crisis in that country after weeks of protests against President Faure Gnassignbe.
This meeting came weeks after the 14 parties decided to suspend all forms of protests and demonstrations aimed at forcing President Faure Gnassingbe to step down, following a meeting between President Nana Akufo-Addo and representatives of the government in Togo.
‘26 Togolese nationals arrested’
In October 2017, 26 Togolese nationals were arrested in Ghana for attempting to stage an unlawful demonstration over the political situation in their country.
According to the Accra Regional Police Operations Officer, Chief Superintendent Kwasi Ofori, about 300 Togolese had to be dispersed at the Kawukudi Park because their intended action was in clear breach of Ghana’s public order act.
That was the second time Togolese nationals in Ghana had tried demonstrating in solidarity with efforts back home by the opposition to have presidential term limits.
‘We’ll bring political crisis to an end’
The agitation led to a public outcry, with some persons including the MP for North-Tongu and former Deputy Minister of Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, calling on the President of Ghana to intervene.
President Akufo-Addo, in response to these concerns had stated that his administration has been working behind closed-doors in an attempt to bring the political crisis to a closure.
The President had said his government was in talks with Togolese officials to address the crisis in that country.
As part of the mediation process, President Nana Addo recently visited Togo where he held a closed-door meeting with Faure Gnassingbe and leaders of the main opposition parties.