Togo's opposition coalition is having trouble gaining the sympathy and support of the outside world, which apparently is needed to overthrow their dictator. Note the conclusion of the article below: "... this time, nobody mistook Togo for Congo."
Note also the classic escalation of tactics: negotiations, demonstrations, more negotiations, fasting and prayer, no more negotiations, sex strike. The last finally garnering the attention of the international media. But, can the Women's Collective leverage the sympathy of the world, or perhaps merely its current curiosity into real pressure on the dictator? Is it the right historical moment? The next few months will reveal whether that will happen or not.
Published in the Guardian by the Let's Save Togo Women's Collective:
|Women's collective leader Isabelle Ameganvi|
Togo is a republic only by name. It has been ruled with an iron fist by the Gnassingbé family since 1963 following the assassination of Sylvanus Olympio, the father of Togo's independence. The regime has been supported by the army ever since and in violation of constitutional provisions, Faure Gnassingbé was installed in power by army generals after his father, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, died in February 2005 after 38 years in power. . . . [T]he approach of parliamentary elections next October [and] the government's delaying tactics to evade pro-democratic reforms have exacerbated a protest movement countrywide...
...This is why Let's Save Togo's women's collective have called for the women of Togo to go on a week-long sex strike in order to press for Gnassingbe's resignation.
.....What are our demands? We asked for the release of those who have been arbitrarily arrested and held in appalling conditions in overcrowded prisons following peaceful demonstrations organised by our Collective. We also want to awaken the national and international community to our plight – too often, they pretend not to see Togo's inexorable descent into hell. And since negotiations are impossible at this point, we demand Gnassingbé's departure.
How will a sex strike help? We have chosen this weapon after exhausting all imaginable peaceful remedies. The Collective has consistently hit a wall and a regime that did not let go. We called for abstinence after having called for fasting and prayer because it was clear that our mobilisation was soon to take a decisive turn. And at this stage, we can modestly give thanks to God, for divine providence is already at work. Last week men of goodwill, including clergymen, woke up and assured us that they would get involved to search for a solution to the current political crisis. Their involvement led to the release of all those arrested.
While it is true that a "week of abstinence, fasting and prayer" would not have had the same media impact as our sex strike, the worldwide echo that the initiative sparked was totally unexpected. Suddenly, all newspapers from Greenland to Australia, Japan and Senegal, wanted to know about Togo's plight: it must have been bad, they wondered, for women to be driven to that extreme. Believe us, this time, nobody mistook Togo for Congo.