Lome, 06 February, 2020 / 3:25 am (ACI Africa).
Bishops in the West African nation of Togo have, in a collective statement, denied allegations of partiality in the country’s politics ahead of general elections made by the Togolese Minister of Territorial Administration.
In a letter made public on January 16, the Togolese Minister for Territorial Administration, Decentralization and Local Government, Payadowa Boukpessi questioned the legitimacy of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace (CEJP) to send observers to polling stations and accused the body of “colluding with local political parties.”
“We the Togolese bishops reject the allegations made by the Minister of Territorial Administration, accusing the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of colluding with local political parties and drawing its funding from hidden sources, convinced that the real reasons are certainly to be found elsewhere,” reads in part a statement issued by the Togolese Bishops’ Conference (CET) availed to ACI Africa.
In the letter, the Bishops have defended their “request for election observation”, which CEJP presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) saying, “this is not only a right recognized by the Togolese Constitution but also an ordinary mission of the entire Justice and Peace Commission (CEJP) recalled by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in the Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus.”
The Bishops have recalled the advice they received from Pope Francis during their ad limina visit to the Vatican on May 11, 2015. “I encourage you to continue to ensure that the Church takes its rightful place in the ongoing process of institutional reform. However, it is still necessary to be careful not to enter directly into political debate and wrangling,” the Pope noted.