Bishops denounce violence in Togo and Gabon

The situation in Togo cannot leave Catholic Bishops, indifferent (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

The Episcopal Conference of Togo renewed its request to the majority and opposition in the country, to sit down at the negotiating table and to avoid any form of violence.

At the end of the General Assembly of the diocesan clergy of Lomé, the Bishops of Togo published a Declaration, reported by Fides News Agency in which they said that “The events that we are experiencing in our Country at a political and social level do not leave us indifferent. Violence against people, the wounded, prisoners, and the dead that marked the period of political dialogue are deplorable and unacceptable”.

Since mid-2017, Togo has been experiencing a profound political crisis following protests by the opposition against President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé Eyadéma who has been in power since 2005, after the death of his father, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, who took power in 1967 following a coup.

The demonstrators ask in particular to limit the mandates of the President to two and that this measure is retroactive so that Faure Gnassingbé does not run in the 2020 elections in order to try and get a fourth term.

A similar situation prevails in Gabon, led since 2009 by Ali Bongo, son of Omar Bongo, in power since 1967 until his death in 2009. His re-election in 2016 sparked protests. Following an illness in October, Bongo finds himself in convalescence in Morocco. On January 7 a group of soldiers attempted a coup, immediately foiled by the departments that remained loyal to the government.

In a statement, Mgr. Basile Mve Engone, Archbishop of Libreville, condemned the attempt to change the regime by force.

“Good politics is at the service of peace”, he said. “This means that in Gabon, even more than in the past, we must try to preserve peace, unity and social cohesion. We, therefore, say no to any form of physical, verbal and emotional violence”.