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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 May, 2005, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Press frets over Togo unrest
African media watch graphic

The ongoing political crisis in Togo following last week's disputed presidential election is a cause for great concern in the African press.

Newspapers in the neighbouring countries of Ghana, Benin and Burkina Faso worry that the crisis could destabilise the region, after thousands of Togolese fled across the border with Benin when violence broke out following the announcement that Faure Gnassingbe, the son of the previous leader, had won.

The Benin paper La Nouvelle Tribune reports that one local authority in the border region "has taken serious measures to welcome Togolese citizens, who are flowing into Beninese border towns in their thousands following the worsening of the situation".

Togo must not follow the examples of the failed states we have on the continent! Togolese politicians, our continent has bled enough already!
Ghana's The Chronicle

"The towns of Come, Grand-Popo, Agoue, Athieme, and many others constitute the first ports of call for Togolese refugees once they leave their country," the Tribune adds.

According to Ghana's Daily Graphic, "the world is watching what is going on in Togo. Significantly, we in Ghana have a keen interest in what goes on there because we are neighbours and what affects them can have a rippling effect on us".

"It is our desire that events after the election will not be characterised by any civil strife whose effect will spill over into Ghana."

Call for restraint

In a similar vein, Ghana's The Chronicle demands that the Accra government "raise alertness level of our border guards!"

"The apprehension of many Ghanaians about the possible effect of any degeneration of the Togolese situation on Ghana is very well grounded, considering the relationships that exist between people along the borders of both countries.

"Our immigration and other security authorities must be alerted on the real developments in Togo, so they are not caught napping."

Another editorial in the Chronicle calls on all sides in Togo to treat each other with respect "in order not to spill more blood".

"Togo must not follow the examples of the failed states we have on the continent! Togolese politicians, our continent has bled enough already!"

Burkina Faso's Le Pays warns: "Today, a civil war could break out if they are not careful because tension is rising and violence continues to consume the Togolese."

Le Pays criticises Togo's veteran opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio, accusing him of failing to get approval from his supporters before holding talks with Faure Gnassingbe on forming a national unity government.

Civil war is more imminent than ever in Togo
Quote in Senegal's Le Quotidien

"Instead of doing this, he complicated the political order. There are now many Togolese who do not understand how this politically-correct man could embark on this tortuous path."

Another Burkina Faso paper, Sidwaya, believes that outside involvement may be necessary to stop the situation deteriorating.

"Maybe only [Nigerian President Olusegun] Obasanjo, with the help of his peers, and the moral support of America, will be able to tell Faure and his followers that the situation can degenerate into a civil war."

The Burkinabe weekly San Fina writes that "a 'family' regime single-handedly ruled the country for decades. To avoid it being taken over by outsiders following President Eyadema's death, no efforts are being spared to enthrone the deceased's heirs."

Revolutionary times?

Cameroon's Le Messager rails against the corruption it believes makes Africa different from Asia, and calls for a revolution. "From Bandung to Lome, we are now realising the gap, the gap which Africans alone have created."

It says "the follies of tribalism and corruption that make intellectuals seek to sell their parents in exchange for minor roles of state" are absent in Asia.

"Therefore, with what is now happening, a revolution is imperative, in Togo and the CAR [Central African Republic] now, and in other countries later. This is the only way we can flush out the dictators from Africa."

Both Zimbabwe and Togo seem to illustrate that in the evolution of democracy in Africa, the tyrant's weapon of choice has evolved from the military coup to the stuffed ballot box
South Africa's The Star

In the Central African Republic itself, Le Citoyen warns that the country must avoid a Togo scenario at all costs, with its inherent dangers of "vandalism" and "banditry".

Senegal's Le Quotidien carries an interview with an aide to the veteran Togolese opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio, who says: "Civil war is more imminent than ever in Togo. Pacifism is over and we are going to claim our rights to the end."

"The credibility of Ecowas is presently at stake in Togo. If a war is waged in Togo today, Ecowas Chairman Mamadou Tandja and [French President Jacques] Chirac are to blame."

The Democratic Republic of Congo's L'Avenir argues that the national unity government will effectively make the election results meaningless.

"One can thus ask why the elections were held in the first place."

And in South Africa, The Star says that: "Both Zimbabwe and Togo seem to illustrate that in the evolution of democracy in Africa, the tyrant's weapon of choice has evolved from the military coup to the stuffed ballot box."

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.




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