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Will Togo Crisis Lead To better African Governance

  • Cindy Shiner

Officials of the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, are in Togo and are expected to press to President Faure Gnassingbe to step down and return the country to constitutional rule.

The Togolese parliament changed the constitution to allow him take office after his father's death this month. He has promised elections but has given no details. ECOWAS has refused to recognize the new government and says it may approve sanctions or military force against Togo.

Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem of the Global Pan-African Movement and Justice Africa, a non-profit organization based in London, says pressure by ECOWAS and the African Union on Mr. Gnassingbe reflects a changing paradigm in Africa since the days of the Organization of African Unity.

The OAU has been reconstituted as the African Union. “Sovereignty has become qualified,” he told Africa Division reporter Cindy Shiner. “We’re moving away into issues of collective security and collective sovereignty and there are grounds under which the (African) Union can intervene in the affairs of member states, namely gross violations of human rights, crimes against humanity, genocide and then also unconstitutional changes in government.”

Mr. Abdul-Raheem said African leaders who do not respect constitutional rule will no longer be ignored. “A sense of shame is returning to the leadership of Africa and that can only lead to better governance and decent treatment of their own people,” said Mr. Abdul-Raheem.