Civil Society Groups in the Volta Region a have marked this year’s International Democracy Day with a call on President Akufo-Addo and leaders of the various Regional bodies to intervene in the crisis in Togo.
In a statement, jointly signed by Mr. Francis Asong, the Executive Director of Voice Ghana and Nana Kugbeadzor-Bakateyi II, the Chief Executive Officer of Global Action for Women Empowerment (GLOWA), the group stated that the United Nations’ International Day of Democracy is annually held on September 15, to raise public awareness about democracy globally.
This year’s theme of “Democracy and Conflict Prevention” focuses on the critical need to strengthen democratic institutions to promote peace and stability globally particularly in West Africa.
“The theme could not have come any better time considering the crisis ongoing in our neighboring country, Togo. Some protesters were killed and hundreds wounded in Togo when security forces opened fire to break up sporadic protests against the ruling Gnassingbe family dynasty”.
President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe has been in power in the West African country since the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema in 2005, who had ruled the Republic of Togo for 38 years.
The statement which was also endorsed by WAIT Asogli Volta Inclusion Platform, Local Governance Network, Local Accountability Network and Governance Issues Forum condemned the counter attack by the Togolese government adding that it was an affront to the growing democracy in the continent.
“Democracy strives in an environment where the rights and responsibilities of citizens are respected and governments learn to listen to the voice of the masses. We also believe citizens have the right to protest and that right must not be infringed upon. We the Civil Society understands Democracy to practically mean fairness, social equality, accountability and consensus building to benefit citizens at the grassroots. A government who does not listen to the voices of the masses is definitely practicing a one party state governance and citizens when suppressed results to street demonstrations and other unrests as being experienced in our neighboring country, Togo. The recent changes made in their constitution in favour of the ruling government to continue to stay in power is a denial of the citizens’ sovereign rights to choose who should govern them within globally accepted terms/periods within the framework of democracy and rule of law. This action is surely not a proceed of true democracy”.
The statement further noted that the current happenings in Togo would not only destabilize the country but would have a rippling effect on the security of its neighboring countries particularly Ghana.
“Ghana and Togo share a lot in common; geographically and socioeconomically. For instance, the various ethnic groups along Ghana’s Eastern frontiers have their extensions in Togo. The Ewe tribe in Ghana has one of its ancestral homes in Togo, and it is the largest tribal group in Togo. Communities in the Volta Region of Ghana during Cultural Festivals, pay homage to their ancestral homes in Togo. Patrons of the Asogli Yam Festival; touted to be one of the biggest festivities in the region, may not be visiting Togo this year as a result of the instability in that country. The situation would also affect cross border businesses and would largely affect the two economies, since there are many citizens who depend on these businesses for their livelihood”.
The statement observed that if the crisis is allowed to escalate, Ghana, especially the Volta Region is likely to be bear brunt of the spillover.
“It is on this backdrop that we, the Civil Society Groups in the region, on this day, call on the President, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to intervene in the situation in Togo. We believe that, if your neighbour’s house is on fire, the best thing to do is not to only put water by yours, but also join hands in dousing your neighbor’s. By that, you prevent the fire from spreading to your compound, and you are also saved the troubles of having to provide refuge for the displaced neighbor”
The statement also called on the African Regional bodies to intervene and finally shares in the grieve of all Togolese.
“We also wish to appeal to the leadership of ECOWAS and the African Union (AU), to take immediate steps to avert further explosion of violence in Togo.We express our profound condolences to the bereaved families and extend our warmest compassion with all other victims of the unrest as we mark this International Democracy day”.
By: King Nobert Akpablie/citifmonline.com/Ghana