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Togo Opposition Unity Talks Break Down


Gilchrist Olympio

Gilchrist Olympio

THE MUCH touted political honeymoon between the two leading Togolese parliamentary opposition parties, the Union of Forces for Change, UFC party of Gilchrist Olympio and the Action Committee for Renewal led by lawyer Dodji Apevon has hit the rocks.

This follows a declaration by the CAR opposition party that it no longer remains committed to the idea of an electoral alliance with the Union of Forces for Change party in on-going negotiations aimed at identifying a suitable single presidential candidate from the Togolese opposition groups to do battle with Faure Gnassingbé during the forthcoming presidential elections due in 2010.

A communiqué released in Lomé this week by CAR said the decision to withdraw from further talks was based on a declaration made by Gilchrist Olympio, leader of the UFC, during an interview he had with Radio France International on October 15, 2009.

According to the CAR party, Mr. Olympio appealed to all Togolese opposition parties including the CAR; “to rally behind the candidate of the Union of Forces for Change , UFC party’s Gilchrist Olympio”, because according to him, “ There exists in Togo only two recognized political forces, notably the ruling RPT (Togo Peoples Rally) and the UFC  (Union of Forces for Change)”.

In the communiqué signed by lawyer Dodji Apevon, the new leader of the Action Committee for Renewal expressed disappointment at the declaration by Mr. Olympio to downgrade other parties at a time when delegates of the two leading parliamentary opposition parties were engaged in discussions aimed at establishing criteria for the selection of a single opposition candidate for the next presidential elections.

The CAR party recalled that negotiations between the two opposition parties which began on January 28, 2009 culminated in the appointment of an Inter-party mixed commission of six delegates per party to work out modalities and acceptable criteria for the selection of a common opposition candidate.

The CAR communiqué said the idea of a mixed commission was crystallized on May 28, 2009 and assigned the two delegations the mission to explore ways and means of contacting and persuading other friendly opposition parties to join hands with them in the common search for a unique opposition candidate.

This was to result in and the creation of a large united opposition front to do battle with the ruling RPT party on a common political platform during the 2010 presidential elections. In addition, the two opposition parties were charged with the responsibility to mobilize the Togolese population to accept the choice of a common unique opposition candidate “based upon the modalities to be elaborated in their final document of the mixed commission”, the CAR communiqué said.

The CAR party pointed out that it was an illusion for Mr Gilchrist Olympio to call on opposition parties to rally behind his candidacy to the detriment of the agreement entered into by the two parliamentary opposition parties.

It was the conviction of the CAR party, said the communiqué that, “It was too late in the day with barely four months to go for the presidential elections for Mr. Olympio to start a new political campaign calling upon opposition parties to rally behind his candidacy”.

According to the communiqué, the CAR party does not see how the opposition candidate can win if all the opposition parties do not come together on a basis to be agreed upon in case the demand for a second round voting system is not adopted in Togo during the presidential elections.

Togo’s constitution endorses the single ballot system of voting. But the opposition wants this scrapped. The CAR party therefore expresses regrets at the recent declaration by Mr. Olympio which qualifies as “non-essential the idea of a unique candidate for the opposition.

“Under the circumstances, Mr. Olympio has by implication come to put dust before the eyes of the whole world that he is not a unifying factor capable of rallying the political parties around him”, the communiqué said.

The CAR communiqué put the blame squarely on the attitude of Mr. Olympio for the inability of the Togolese opposition to win the legislative elections held in October 2007 in order to obtain the necessary political change desired in Togo.

The CAR party accused Mr. Olympio of pursuing an agenda which projected that “his UFC party was going to govern alone if it won the last legislative elections” instead of trying to rally all the Togolese opposition to win the legislative elections in 2007.

Again, pointed out CAR, in April 24 2005 Mr. Olympio chose to unilaterally negotiate power sharing with Faure Gnassingbé in Abuja instead of supporting popular resistance against what it called “the stolen verdict of the people by Faure Gnassingbé during the 2005 disputed presidential elections”. CAR concluded, “Once bitten twice shy”.

Source: dailyguideghana

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