, 27 November, 2019 / 2:09 AM
As the West African country of Togo looks gears up for Presidential Election scheduled for early next year, the country’s Catholic Bishops have invited the government to initiate reforms in the electoral process to guarantee a free, fair and transparent poll even as the exact date of the elections is yet to be announced.
“We once again urge the government to carry out, in the best interests of the Nation, the reforms necessary to consolidate the electoral framework before the presidential elections of 2020,” reads in part the pastoral letter by the Episcopal Conference of Togo (C.E.T) dated November 21.
In the letter, the Bishops invite the Togolese government to “review, in a more concerted manner, the composition of the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) and the Constitutional Council to put them above any suspicion of dependence, to revise the Electoral Code, (and) to establish a reliable and credible voter register,” among other requirements.
The Prelates “urge all the actors in the political life of our country and the international community that accompanies us to show sincerity, loyalty and disinterest in order to finally bring our country, the "gold of humanity", into the concert of modern, strong and democratically civilized nations.”
Addressing themselves to Togolese politicians, the Bishops urge those actively involved in politics in their country to “positively surprise the world that is watching us, by taking their responsibility to finally offer their fellow citizens a peaceful, free, transparent and fair election.”
The Church leaders have also appealed for responsible behavior among citizens saying, “We call on all actors in the political life of our country to reason and to (have) a sense of responsibility before the people and before history. We call on everyone to exercise restraint, refrain from any form of violence and any act of provocation.”
The Bishops have called on the politicians in the opposition to sober up.
“The political opposition should work professionally and civically on these major issues, in order to propose an alternative based on a spirit of consensus and mutual respect.,” the Bishops said in their statement availed to ACI Africa.
“Indeed, the objectives around seasonal, sporadic and circumstantial alliances concluded between opposition parties have always proved to be the causes of their implosion,” the Bishops said and added, “We see the same scenario on the horizon as barely the dates of the next presidential elections are announced, we witness an avalanche of candidate declarations, apparently more concerned with personal interests than with a real desire to conquer and exercise power for the good of the entire nation.”
According to the Togolese Bishops, the hearts of the citizens are not happy as the Christmas holidays approach. God forbid that the upcoming presidential election "revives in the memory of our compatriots the bitter memory of scenes of violence and horror," they have cautioned.
The expressed their conviction that “Togo's recovery requires the conversion of all its children, from decision-makers to the average citizen, who are all responsible for the stalled situation.”
"There are not only bad guys and executioners on one side, and good guys and innocent victims on the other,” the Bishops have observed and explained, “Everyone, in one way or another, has a responsibility. The abuses and acts of violence committed here and there are perpetrated by Togolese against their fellow citizens, and sometimes by those whose mission is to protect and defend them.”
“We invite everyone to honesty and a real awareness," the Church leaders concluded.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa