- European Union (EU) authorities have proposed 20 December or 5 January as possible dates for the opening of negotiations with Togo regarding the current sanctions regime, according to the Togolese government.
The EU is sanctioning the Togolese regime under article 96 of Cotonou agreement, which allows it to fully or partly suspend its cooperation with an Africa-Caribbean-Pacific state found guilty of seriously violating democratic principles.
The cooperation was suspended after the EU on various occasions had urged the regime of President Gnassingbé Eyadéma - in power since 1967 - to allow democratisation. Elections earlier this year were seen as manipulated and only contributed to stronger EU reactions.
According to information published by the Lomé government today, however, there may be some movement in the EU towards negotiations. Two possible dates for such negotiations allegedly have been set.
- At the end of those negotiations, Brussels would decide whether to at least partially restore its cooperation with Lomé, according to the Togolese government. Some deputies at the European parliament are exerting pressure on the Council of member states and the European Commission to re-establish cooperation with Togo.
European parliament members have said they reject double standards under which they believe the sanctions against Togo are maintained, while other ACP member countries with similar electoral irregularities continue to benefit from European co-operation, according to the analysis made in Lomé.
Addressing the European Parliament's development commission in October, Togolese Prime Minister Koffi Sama had pleaded for the resumption of EU's co-operation with his country.
Brussels first suspended its structural cooperation with Lomé following serious disturbances that broke out in Togo ahead of presidential election in 1993. Human rights organisations and an African Union mission later have documented serious and systematic human rights violations by the Eyadéma regime, including massacres.
Since that, President Eyadéma has won two presidential elections, in 1998 and this year, which both have been marred by irregularities. After the Togolese government failed to comply with an agreement on how to organise the 2003 poll, the EU refused to send election observers.
According to the Lomé government, the EU however only had "maintained the sanctions in 1998 after being unsatisfied by the outcome of presidential election, which was won by President Gnassingbé Eyadéma."
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