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Akuffo Addo plays the role of a peacemaker in Togo

Our neighbor to the west, Togo, is embroiled in a political crisis that has occasionally paralyzed the small West African nation.

The various opposition groups aligned against President Faure Gnassingbe, can’t seem to gain any traction. Put another way, their efforts have yielded no significant results. Because, the last time I checked, Mr. Gnassingbe was still in charge.

The Togolese opposition, fractured and leaderless, have largely failed to convince Gnassingbe that a multiparty political system does not mean the endlesss manipulation of power by one political party or one political family.

So, the stalemate continues long after it began in 2005 with the death of Mr. Eyadema, father of the current President.

Togo has been in political limbo for well over a decade and is on the verge of imploding for reasons that are all too common and familiar; the uncanny desires of the Gnassingbe family to hang on to power, to preserve its privileges and to prolong its dominance over the former French colony.

Of course, this maneuver by the calculating Gnassingbe family irked/angered millions of Togolese and drove them to the streets where they staged a series of protests to register their anger at the Gnassingbe family’s naked grab for power. Their disdain was palpable.

The truth of the matter is that seven million Togolese citizens want electoral reforms, which include a constitutional change that will limit the presidency to two terms. But Mr. Gnassingbe, has not been receptive to those ideas; or if he has, he has not demonstrated any commitment to carrying out much needed reforms that would ensure political stability.

A political impasse was subsequently created, and the prospects for an amicable settlement between Gnassingbe whose father ruled for 38 years and the collection of 14 opposition groups and civil society organizations are zero. Each group has dug in deep, is entrenched in its position and not open to a compromise. That does not look good for Togo’s political future.

Our president Mr. Akuffo Addo, as I have repeated so often over these airwaves, is an astute politician. He was not going to sit idly by as Togo edges so ever closely to upheaval and disaster. He understood the consequences of sitting on his hunches and not doing anything about the crisis next door. Where ECOWAS failed woefully, Mr. Addo thinks Ghana can succeed.

It apparently dawned on the President that if he did not step in and try to get the various Togolese sides to sit at the table, hammer out their differences and craft a solution to their political problem, the dangers posed by a fractured and lawless Togo could threaten Ghana’s relative stability. Remember our borders with Togo are porous.

I am pleased with Mr. Addo’s calculus; his subsequent conclusion that it was about time he became a peacemaker, about time for Ghana to get involved in Togo’s internal affairs, is one of the crowning achievements of his presidency in the realm of international affairs.

Going therefore to Lome was clearly Mr. Addo utilizing his negotiating skills and applying them where they are most needed. Mr. Addo valiant efforts to bring Togo’s assorted political groups together, to find common grounds and smoke the peace pipe, are praiseworthy. His crossborder diplomacy noted for its bluntness, is precisely what the small West African nation desperately needs.



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