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Togo opposition leaders say they’ll be unyielding in their demands

Leaders of the 14 opposition political parties of Togo who are in Accra for mediation talks with President Akufo-Addo say they will not back down on their demand for President Faure Gnassingbe to step down peacefully.

Ahead of their meeting with Nana Akufo-Addo Wednesday afternoon, Nathaniel Olympio of the Parti des Togolais told TV3’s Komla Klutse that they were going into the meeting with the objective of ensuring the will of the Togolese people prevail.

“We are here to reinforce our position, which is to let our constitution to get back; the one the people have voted for in 1992. We want to find a way to let this regime step down peacefully,” he said.

The delegation arrived in Accra Tuesday evening at the behest of President Akufo-Addo who has since October 2017 been mediating the political crisis between the Coalition of Opposition political parties and the Gnassingbe-led government.

READ: Akufo-Addo airlifts Togolese opposition leaders for talks in Accra

Nana Akufo-Addo in February 2018 brokered the release of 45 out of 92 political prisoners who were arrested by the Togo government during the peak of the crisis for allegedly playing various roles in a series of protests.

This was after a meeting held between the parties. The meeting, facilitated by the President of Nana Akufo-Addo, was aimed at finding a lasting solution to the political impasse that has rocked Togo since August 2017.

Mr. Olympio told our correspondent Wednesday that though they have not been pleased with the level of the talks thus far, they are optimistic something positive would come of the second round of talks which are currently ongoing in Accra.

He explained the first round of talks were to set the stage, hence did not put forth the core issues that are at the centre of the protest which has resulted in the crisis in the francophone country.

Nathaniel Olympio of the Parti des Togolais

“The first step was about how to create a good environment before starting the discussions. It’s about how to free people who are in jail without any reasons,” Mr. Olympio told Komla Klutse.

He added: “What we are expecting is to find a final solution…Let’s say things are not going as well as we want but the first step is done so we are expecting that the second one will help us discuss the true questions that concern us. We hope that we find a specific position that will take into account the will of the people,”

Mr. Olympio indicated that the Togolese people on whose behalf they are acting do not want any more violence, adding the people are expecting to have a democracy “where people can talk freely”.

“The position we have is the position of the Togolese people so we are here in the name of the Togolese people, on behalf of the Togolese people so we have no other agenda than that,” he stated to justify why they cannot settle for anything less of what the people expect.

The crisis

There has been political tension in Togo since August last year as the Coalition of Opposition Parties is demanding the resignation of President Gnassingbe in a bid to bring the Gnassingbe dynasty to an end.

Nationwide protest rallies held on August 20, 2017 saw the death of two persons.

There were also reported clashes in cities across the country as tension reached high pitch in the opposition stronghold, Sokode.

On September 6, 2017 thousands of protestors marched through the streets of Togo’s capital, Lomé, causing authorities to shut down the internet in that country.

The situation caused scores of Togolese to flee the country.

In October 2017, President Akufo-Addo intervened by initiating talks with the political actors in that country in an attempt to ensure political stability for peace to prevail.

“The events that are taking place next door in Togo are disturbing for all of us and especially for you. …I know that anything that happens in Togo is a matter that’s very, very great concern [to you] and it is a concern to me and all the people of Ghana,” he told traditional leaders from the Aflao in the Volta Region on October 30, 2017.

READ: We shall welcome any mediation by Akufo-Addo – Togo opposition party

He indicated there was no way he could sit idle, adding the Togolese president “came to see me in Tamale 10 days ago for long discussions, I have been meeting other political activists and definitely, we are all talking to see how we can bring this crisis to a closure and bring stability and peace to Togo,”.

By Stephen Kwabena Effah|3news.com|Ghana

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