African Overview: Togo, Liberia and Gambia

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President of Togo Faure Gnassingbé Eyadéma. Photo: Africanews

Source: Notas Periodismo Popular / The Dawn News / November 6, 2017

 

 

Togo 1The government of Togo lifted the ban against protests of the opposition

On Friday, the Togolese authorities ended the prohibition against holding mobilizations (weeks ago it was established that they could only be done on weekends). The decision was made after a meeting between government officials with leaders of the opposition parties and representatives of the civil society.

Damehane Yark, Security Minister, explained to the press that this proves the will of the Executive to “avoid the deaths, wounded and loots these kind of manifestations leave behind, while proving that in Togo there is freedom of speech”.

It is worth highlighting that, despite the ban, opposition organizations continued holding mobilizations that were brutally repressed by the government. From August, when the protests started, at least 16 people died product of the police and military violence.

The main demands of the coalition that gathers 14 opposition parties are: the limitation of the presidential term (as it was stipulated in the Constitution of 1992); the change in the electoral code to establish the two round voting system -currently the candidate with the simple majority wins-; and the implementation of oversea voting. To achieve this objective, new manifestations have been announced for November 7, 8 and 9.

The current president, Faure Gnassingbé Eyadéma, is in office since 2005 when he seized power with a coup d’etat after the death of his father which left over 500 dead. Then he triumphed in the 2010 and 2015 elections, and his current term will end in 2020.

In this context, the government proposed to reform the Constitution to establish a two term limit starting on the next term, which would allow Gnassingbé to be a candidate again. The proposal was rejected in the Parliament so the government will submit it to referendum.

Togo achieved its independence from France in 1960. Seven years later a coup d’etat lead by Gnassingbé Eyadéma took over the government. Eyadéma led the country until 2005 when he passed away due to a heart attack. However in 1992 a multiparty system, which limited the presidential term to two periods of five years, was installed.

 

LiberiaThe Supreme Court suspends the Runoff Election in Liberia

The Liberian people were about to elect president on November 7, when the runoff between the senator and former footballer George Weah and current vice president Joseph Boakai was supposed to happen. However, last Wednesday the Supreme Court decided to suspend the polls.

The resolution came after the Liberty Party challenged the elections, of the candidate who third in the first round, Charles Brumskine. The denunciation sustains that the outgoing president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, gathered with different electoral judges with the purpose of boycotting Boakai.

Even though he was her vice president, they had a conflictive relation and took different positions in many occasions during the government. The Unity Party of Sirleaf and Boakai adhered to the complaint.

On Monday, the court emitted a new decision on the issue, recognizing the complaint and ordering an investigation by the Electoral Commission. If the denunciations are corroborated, the general elections must be repeated. On the contrary, the runoff election will be held, where a victory of Weah is predicted, since senator and former war lord Prince Johnson -who got the 8% of the votes in the first round- has already declared his support.

On their behalf, the president of Guinea, Alpha Conde, and the president of Togo, Faure Gnassingbe, have started to act as mediators between the different political parties. The first is doing so as the president of the African Union, while the later is currently leading the Economic Commission for Western Africa.

 

Gambia 2Government of Gambia will compensate journalists and families.

The Gambian authorities accepted a decision from the court of the Economic Community of West African States (Cedeao) which forces to compensate press workers and their families for having suffered crimes against human rights during the government of former president Yahya Jammeh (1194-2017).

According to the decision, they will receive compensation that ranges from 50 thousand dollars to 200 thousand dollars. The journalists are: Musa Saidykhan, detained and tortured; Ebrima Manneh, arrested illegally; and the family of Deyda Hydara, murdered in 2004.

The special counselor of the Justice Minister of Gambia, Hussein Thomasi, sustained that the verdict against the previous government “will be respected by the current administration”. “We are members of this organization, so we can’t oppose its decisions”, he added.

The current president Adama Barrow triumphed in the presidential elections of December 2016, but was sworn in as the new leader in the Gambian embassy in Dakar, on January 19, while the troops of the Cedeao, led by Senegal, entered the country to depose Jammeh.

The new president returned to Gambia by the end of January while Jammeh was exiled. The former president is accused of violating human rights and of practicing torture against members of the political opposition during his 22 years in office. Also, the new authorities denounced that Jammeh took 500 million Dalasis (around 11 million dollars) from the national treasure just before of going into exile.

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