Ghana Should Invade Togo to Restore Democracy – Rejoinder
Since the death of the president of Togo Gnassingbe Eyadema on February 5, 2005, there has been a lot of chatter on Ghanaian Internet sites as to what constitutes a proper response by the government of Ghana to the unfolding political drama in the neighbouring country. Within Ghana, opposition figures pronounced themselves 'stunned' by what they called the government's 'silence' on the Togolese issue; to which the Foreign Minister Nana Akuffo Addo branded such sentiments by the opposition as being 'ill-informed and irresponsible'. No matter which side one takes on the Togolese issues, few would shed a tear for Eyadema. He was without doubt a dictator who cast a long shadow on the nation of Togo, and indeed Africa. Sergeant Eyadema has the unenviable record of being the first African soldier to successfully overthrow a legally constituted government in post-colonial Africa. He achieved that in 1963 when most Africans had hardly cleaned the post-colonial dew from their eyes. In that year, Sylvanus Olympio, the first president who had been elected to that office in 1961, was brutally assassinated in a coup d'etat, and replaced by Nicolas Grunitzky.
Eyadema became head of the Armed Forces, and again in a 1967 coup seized power from Grunitzky. He remained in office till death, the great equalizer, ended his rule. Following his death, the Togolese parliament connived to instal one of Eyadema's sons Faure Gnassingbe, a member of parliament, and Minister of Communications as president, with the imprimatur of the Armed Forces. Other than being a ludicrous attempt at introducing monarchical-type succession, the act contravened the Togolese Constitution, such as it is. Under the Constitution, the Speaker of parliament would succeed the president in the event of death or resignation. Once the glaring omission became apparent, president Faure Gnassignbe was 'elected' Speaker of the Togolese parliament, to further cloak his appointment in a constitutional garb! The real Speaker of the National Assembly was out of the country. His return to Togo was rendered moot when his plane was refused entry into Togolese air space. Thus Mr. Fambare Natchaba Ouattara, the (former) Speaker remains grounded in Benin, Togo's neighbour to the east! This rather bold and incredible political blitzkrieg (if one may call it so), by the guardians of the late president Eyadema's legacy, would make for a good movie; but it failed to impress Africans of all stripes. The African Union called it 'a military coup'. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), quickly met, and condemned actions of the Togolese parliament and military. To this, some Ghanaians have called on the government of Ghana to 'invade Togo', in order to 'restore democracy'! Nothing could be a more disastrous policy. One only has to look at Iraq to learn the lessons when one country arrogantly decided to 'invade' another, in order to instal 'freedom and democracy'. Yet such is the call made by Kwabena Osei-Dadzie in an article on Ghanaweb, on February 14, 2005, titled Ghana Should Invade Togo to Restore Democracy . To buttress his argument, Osei Dadzie cites the 'invasion of Uganda by Tanzania' as a worthy example to be followed by Ghana, since Tanzania's action ended Amin's dictatorship. What Osei-Dadzie forgets to mention is that Tanzania had a legal and moral right to invade Uganda in 1978, because Tanzania's action was in response to Uganda's invasion and occupation of a 700-mile stretch of Tanzania territory. When Amin refused to heed Tanzanian and international calls to retreat from Tanzania, Julius Nyerere was left with no option but to fight to reclaim Tanzanian territory, and teach the butcher Amin, some lessons in the process. It bears mentioning that the downfall of Amin, and the installation of Milton Obote (he had been overthrown by Amin in a coup), as president did not lead to democracy. Rather, Obote inaugurated a deadly dictatorship that was ended by a guerrilla war led by current president Yoweri Museveni, who is no democrat, either! Using the Tanzanian action as a model for Ghana therefore does not hold water. To wit, Togo has not invaded Ghana; nor, it would seem does it intend to invade Ghana. Further, Osei-Dadzie digresses into a 'a little history' to underscore the consequences of Ghana's presumed inaction in the Togo crisis, by reminding the reader that, 'what is happening in Togo today is similar to events in the Cote d'ivoire not too long ago'. The sad events in the Ivory Coast and Liberia are often cited by Ghana's political malcontents (of which it must be noted my friend Kwabena is not a number), whenever they want to hold the government and people of Ghana, to ransom for some of their iffy demands!
Clio, it said, is the best teacher. Hence, Osei-Dadzie cites the Ivorian example as being analogous to the Togolese situation because in the Ivory Coast, Henri Konan Bedie the Speaker of Parliament, 'thwarted the efforts of the prime minister and used parliamentary manuevres (sic) to become the president after the death of Houphet Boigney'. That again, is misleading.
Francophone Africa mimics France in so many ways, not least of which is their Constitution. Under the French Constitution, the Speaker of the Senate assumes the presidency following the President's death or resignation, and becomes interim Head of State until the next election. Such was the case in the Ivory Coast. Therefore, when Houphouët-Boigny died in December 1993, in accordance with the terms of the Ivorian Constitution, parliamentary speaker Henri Konan Bedie became head of state for the remainder of the presidential term. Extrapolating Ivorian events onto Togo's, and drawing conclusions for the future thereof, is doubly misleading!
Assuming someone wanted to 'invade' Togo, Osei-Dadzie provides a military blueprint for a successful invasion. He suggests Nigeria attacks from Benin, while Ghana invades across the border leading to Lome, the Togolese capital. Suppose Nigerian says no to such blatant disregard of international law? Or as I would implore, perhaps Nigeria might decide instead to use its military to help build democracy within Nigeria, given the disorder in her own democracy! In that case, Ghana should go it alone, Osei-Dadzie insists.
In making the case for a unilateral invasion of Togo by Ghana, the writer provides a raison d'etre that has become the mantle for supporters of a Ghanaian military invasion of Togo. I quote Osei-Dadzie:
'More importantly, majority of Ewes who have been victimized and discriminated against by Eyadema's regime over the years and who are in the majority in the Togolese capital and in the south of the country, would relish the opportunity to fight to restore real democracy in Togo'.
This is where I see the danger in the misguided clamour for Ghana's action on the Togolese crisis. Much of the debate on the Internet is clouded by this need to 'invade' Togo to redeem Ewes in Togo, based on the unmentioned calculation that the Ewes of Ghana vicariously felt the pain of their brethren across the border in Togo!
Colonial match-making took no consideration of ethnicity when borders of the colonies were drawn at a conference in Berlin, Germany in 1884. Indeed, had it not been for World War I, the entire Volta Region (with the exception of Anlo), and up north to Bimbila would be part of the nation of Togoland. Yendi would be in Togo, and the main 'gates' would have been left in Togo!!
If country A decided to invade country B to assuage the interests of ethnic groups along borders, the whole of Africa would be turned into an inferno. Ethiopia and Somalia fought a war on that assumption, and in 1964, the OAU conference in Cairo certified the sanctity of national borders, even with all its imperfections as the better choice.
Thus in the matter of the present political crisis in Togo, it is my view that the government of Ghana has acted in a statesmanlike manner, and with aplomb. As a member of ECOWAS, Ghana has joined the sub-regional group in condemning the actions of the Togolese military and legislature.
What Togo needed above all, was stability in the aftermath of Eyadema's 38-years mis-rule. That stability was assured by the assumption of power of Faure Gnassignbe, as flawed as the process was. What needs to be done now, is for the ECOWAS and Africa Union (AU) to use diplomatic means, under threats of sanctions to enable the Togolese authorities to ensure a quick and peaceful elections. That is what Faure seemed bent on doing when the weight of Africa Union criticism forced him to address the nation, and promised political reforms, along with other departures from his father's despotic rule.
By issuing military threats and unguarded language, as some countries seem to have done, we risk antagonizing the new political order in Lome, and creating a Rehoboam in Togo.
If the AU were truly concerned about the establishment of democratic order in Africa, they would do well to look at Libya, Gambia; Cameroon; Gabon; Equatorial Guinea; Egypt; and Zimbabwe; to mention a few.
The Africa Union and ECOWAS are to be commended for forthrightly condemning the 'coup' in Togo. It must now use diplomacy to ensure a peaceful change in that country. This, I believe is how Ghana ought to do. To frame the debate in any other way is mere grandstanding.
The fact that under Jerry Rawlings, some of the members of the Togolese opposition such as Gilchrist Olympio were provided with Ghanaian diplomatic passports and other luxuries in Ghana, does not follow that the Kufour administration ought to do likewise. Ghana must be guided by 'realpolitik'.
So far, Ghana is on the right track in this matter, by using her own diplomatic channels, while endorsing sub-regional and African diplomatic initiatives.