- Talks between the Togolese government and European Union (EU) representatives on resuming EU aid for Togo started this week in Lomé. While Togolese authorities try to convince the EU that a real democratisation process has been implemented, the opposition has already left this "process" in protest.
Talks between the Togolese government and EU officials began in Lomé Wednesday to assess what progress the country has made in fulfilling "democratic commitments" defined by Brussels, the Togolese government announced yesterday. The talks, which are being held behind closed doors in a luxury hotel in Lomé, have brought together several Togolese Ministers and four delegates from the European Commission.
- The discussions are looking in particular at the report filed last Monday by the government of Togo about implementing commitments made in Brussels, an unnamed European source in Lomé was quoted as saying by the Togolese government. He was referring to a series of democratisation measures Togolese government officials pledged to make during a visit to the Belgian capital in April.
The Togolese visit to Brussels in April was "a preliminary step by Togo to get relations with the EU back on track after more than 10 years of disruption," the government said. The EU halted cooperation with the West African country in 1993, when massive human rights violations ruined the process of bringing democracy to the country.
The Togolese government since that frequently has been accused of serious human rights violations, including executions of opposition sympathisers, torture, gagging the press and the opposition and election fraud. The EU last year condemned the Togolese presidential polls and refused to restart its cooperation with the Lomé government.
Lomé authorities however have not given up on reviving the valuable aid from the EU, promising real democratisation during the recent Brussels meeting. Among pledges made by the government officials was the revision of election laws and the organisation of "open and credible" talks with the Togolese opposition.
Those talks opened last week, but were boycotted by the main opposition grouping and two other parties. Togolese Communications Minister Pitang Tchalla yesterday was furious at the opposition boycott and claimed that the EU had "demanded" that these talks took place.
Boycotting the talks was tantamount to "taking the people hostage, because you can't speak of dialogue and set conditions for it," said Minister Tchalla. The opposition would "do everything to make this attempt by the government to normalise relations with the EU fail," he added.
Togo's main opposition party, the Union of Forces for Change (UFC), had decided to boycott the talks because its leader, Gilchrist Olympio, who lives in exile in France, has been excluded from them. "We want dialogue between the government and the opposition but the current conditions of unpreparedness and the exclusion of our leader do not allow us to take part in the dialogue," said UFC Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Fabre.
The EU will not let this setback stop its efforts. "We will also hold working sessions with representatives of the opposition parties," the unnamed European source was quoted by the Togolese government. The EU team is to summarise the results of the talks at the end of its trip to Togo, on 5 June, the government report said.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.