The Political Crisis in Togo and Guinea Raise Questions About ECOWAS’ Commitment to Freedom in West Africa

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Faure Gnassingbé using alcohol as part of his campaign strategy

Last week Togolese launched a protest in Nigeria against Faure Gnassingbe, who has been the president of Togo since 2005 and is seeking his fourth term in the upcoming elections next year. Prior to that Faure’s father, Gnassingbe Eyadema served as president of Togo from 1967 until his death in 2005, marking 52 years of Togo being run by the same family.

The protesters were requesting that the Nigerian government to take action in order to prevent Faure from seeking a fourth term. Togo only recently implemented a two-term limit for the presidency, but the term limits are not retroactive, which means that Faure can serve two more terms as president in Togo, meaning that he can be in power until 2030. Togo’s 1992 constitution limited the president to only two terms, but this provision was altered in 2002 so that Faure’s father could seek another term.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has done very little to restrain Faure’s abuse of power in Togo. In fact, ECOWAS’ handling of the political crisis in Togo has been met with scrutiny from those who question ECOWAS’ commitment to democracy in West Africa. ECOWAS’ commitment to democracy in the region is further put in question by ECOWAS lack of involvement in the political crisis in Guinea, where President Alpha Condé is seeking a third term. In October, the president of ECOWAS released a statement on Guinea, which did not explicitly denounce Condé’s bid for a third term. In 2015, ECOWAS planned to place a two-term restriction on regional leaders, but this plan was dropped. At the time, Togo and the Gambia both had presidents who had already been in power for more than two terms. Since then the Gambia was able to liberate itself from dictatorial rule, but the people of Togo are still struggling to do the same and the people of Guinea are fighting to prevent the emergence of yet another dictatorship in Guinea.

Dwayne is the author of several books on the history and experiences of African people, both on the continent and in the diaspora. His books are available through Amazon. You can also follow Dwayne on Facebook and Twitter.

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