Monday, February 21, 2005

Le Togo se ridiculise devant le monde ...

Version anglaise:
On Saturday, February 19, I listened to BBC radio interviewing the Togolese Minister of Communications, Pitang Tchalla. It was the saddest, most ridiculous performance that I have heard in ages. The minister was repeating (I paraphrase here): "We had a crisis. The President died. The Speaker of parliament was out of the country. There was a vacuum we had to fill for the security of the country. What do you want us to do?" Then he put forth the specious, convoluted logic of the so-called constitutionality of Faure Gnassingbe's take-over. He became very frustrated and had no answer when the BBC journalist asked him: "If the President of the Parliament was out of the country, why wouldn't you allow the deputy speaker to become interim President, as provided in the Constitution? Why wouldn't you let Speaker Natchaba back in the country?"

The Minister justified the coup that brought Faure Gnassingbe to power by saying that it was necessary to prevent a dangerous power vacuum. He is further quoted as saying, "I don't know whether our friends outside (want) Togo to fragment into pieces." When the current regime took power in 1967, there was a credible argument that the political parties of the day had plunged the country into chaos and that it was necessary to restore security and civil order. After 38 years in power, however, the regime wears its failure to create a stable, free, prosperous, and law-abiding society like a badge of honor, as if its failure further justified its lawless clinging to power.

We should not be surprised at this turn of events. The regime is dangerously removed from reality and has been shielded from the consequences of its actions by its protectors and enablers, especially France, for 38 years. Therefore, it is shocked - truly shocked! - that the international community has finally had enough and takes them to task for their irresponsible and unconstitutional actions.

The ruling politico-military clique just doesn't seem to "get it" when it comes to how much they are embarrassing themselves on the global stage and what the economic consequences are for a country whose economy has already been suffering for many years. Togo is no longer as obscure as it was in pre-globalization days. For every news item that I post to Togo-L, the same article is posted to all the major international media and to literally dozens of local news services in Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia. The scratching we hear in the background is business people scratching Togo from the list of potential partners, capitalists scratching Togo from the list of promising opportunities for investment, and tourists scratching Togo from the list of vacation destinations.

Poor Togo, to be so ill-served by its leaders at such an important point in its history ...


French version:
Le samedi, 19 février 2005, j'ai écouté une émission de la BBC News. Le journaliste interviewait le Ministre togolais de la Communication, M. Pitang Tchalla. C'etait la prestation la plus triste, la plus ridicule que j'ai entendu depuis très longtemps. Le Ministre a avancé une explication bizarre et convoluté de la logique constitutionnelle du coup qui a porté Faure Gnassingbé au pouvoir. Le ministre se répétait à dire (ici je paraphrase): "Nous avons subi une crise. Le Président Eyadema est mort. Le Président du Parlement était en voyage hors du pays. Il y avait un vide de pouvoir que nous nous devions de remplir afin de garantir la sécurité du pays. Qu'est-ce que vous voulez que nous fassions?" Il est devenu tout à fait frustré quand le journaliste a insisté a lui poser la question, "Si le Président du Parlement était hors du pays, pourquoi n'avez-vous pas permis au Vice-Président du Parlement d'assurer l'intérim comme prévu par la Consitution? Pourquoi n'avez-vous pas permis au Président du Parlement Natchaba de revenir au pays?"

Le Ministre a justifié le coup qui a porté au pouvoir Faure Gnassingbé en disant qu'il a été nécessaire afin d'éviter un vide de pouvoir. De plus, en s'adressant à la presse, il a dit: "Je ne sais pas si nos amis étrangers veulent que le Togo se désagrèges." Quand le régime actuel a saisi le pouvoir en 1967, un argument crédible pourrait être avancé qui postulait que les partis politiques de l'époque avaient plongé le pays dans le chaos et qu'il a été nécessaire de restaurer la sécurité et l'ordre civile. Après 38 ans au pouvoir, pourtant, le régime porte comme une médaillon d'honneur le fait qu'il n'a pas pu créer un état de droit ni une société stable, libre, et prospère, comme si ses propres défaillances justifiaient son accrochage illégal au pouvoir.

Nous ne devrions pas nous étonner à ce tour des événements. Le régime s'est dangereusement éloigné de la réalité. Pendant 38 années, il a été protégé des conséquences de ses actions par ses protecteurs et facilitateurs, particulièrement la France. Par conséquent, il est choqué - vraiment choqué ! - que la communauté internationale en a finalement eu marre et le prend à partie pour ses actions irresponsables et anti-constitutionnelles.

La clique politico-militaire au pouvoir ne semble pas appréhender combien ils se sont embarrassé sur la scène internationale par leurs actions et quelles en seront les conséquences économiques pour un pays dont l'économie avait déjà souffert pendant plus d'une décennie. Le Togo n'est plus aussi inconnu qu'il était avant l'avènement de la globalisation. Chaque article de presse que j'affiche au Togo-L est aussi diffusé à d'autres médias internationaux et aux douzaines de services de presse locaux en Europe, en Amérique du nord, en Asie, et en Australie. Le bruit de grattage que nous entendons provient des personnes d'affaires qui sont en train de rayer le Togo de la liste des clients potentiels; des capitalistes qui rayent le Togo de la liste d'occasions prometteuses pour l'investissement; et des touristes qui rayent le Togo de la liste de destinations de vacances.

Pauvre Togo, d'être si mal servi par ses leaders à un moment si important de son histoire ...

Copyright © 2005 Kelly J. Morris


patrick ( said...

Dear Kelly,

Of course the argument seems to be ridiculous if coming from Pitang Tchalla. Because it seems so obvious that what some of those people most prominent in supporting Gnassingbe Eyadema want to avoid falling apart is what they owned during their years in office.

Nevertheless the problem Tchalla is speaking about has to be taken seriously, though not exactly in the terms he used.
Indeed, first, the capacity of hurting the country and its people by some extremists inside the ruling and former single party is great (as was shown in 1993!)... and enhanced by a quite often almost hopeless youth that could be mobilised by extremists in both the government- and the opposition-side, for the sake of only few money and hope!
Second, for a transition to be successful, as Edem Kodjo (but not only he) stated, the problem is not only to give some guarantees to those government officials who were most active in favour of the preceding regime, but also to give guarantees that ethnic cleansing and "Kabye-hunting" does not begin again as in 1991 and 1992. That is, one has to guarantee security.
Third, you have to have a partner in the government-side willing to make a transition. And, besides all the trouble and the anti-constitutional investiture, it is the first time since 1991/1992 that the opposition has a partner in government both pressed and apparently willing to change if the guarantees described above are given.
Fourth, this is not a plaidoyer for leaving criminals go. But both Morocco and South Africa have shown that with some imagination, one could find more pragmatic solutions. E.g. a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (although as defective as in the Moroccan case) may be a solution both easier (politically speaking) and more peaceful than the normal kind of judicial procedure. And unfortunately, only very few people in the opposition (even less on the government side, as far as I see from distance) do think about such pragmatic solutions, once again hoping that their maximalist dreams may come true.

And in this socially explosive Togolese and West African situation (look at Cote d'Ivoire or Liberia or Sierra Leone), one of the main aims should be to avoid maximalist positions to come and fight each other, shouldn't it?

KANGNI said...

Togo's situation is very serious.The stupid declaration of Pitang Tcalla shows who are leading the country now . Thinking about Togo ,I don't know what I can do to help, to bring that tiny country on the right way.I'm scare that Togo will set bad example to other countries in Africa.We don't have Diamond or Oil in Togo...
If Bush agenda is truly for "spreadind Democracy and Freedom around the Globe" why do not fully involve into Togo's fight for Democracy.Remember if Democracy wins in Togo it will spread in Africa.If we fail to remove Faure Gnassingbe from the power it will also spread across the continent and even beyong.
The stake is high here. Please let organise something.