World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Violence in Togo

29 April 2005

Letter to H.E. Mamadou Tandja, Chairperson, Economic Community of West Africa
and President of the Republic of Niger, 29 April, 2005

(The same letter was also sent to H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, Chairman of the African
Union and President of the Republic of Nigeria)

Your Excellency,

I write to express grave concern over the recent violence that erupted in the
Republic of Togo, especially in Lomé, following the voting on April 24, 2005
and the announcement on April 26 of the preliminary results. On behalf of the
World Council of Churches, I express deep sadness at the deaths and injuries
caused. We have also received reports that several church leaders are hiding because
they are threatened.

I urgently appeal for calm and call upon all political leaders and their supporters
to refrain from actions or statements that would only further exacerbate the
situation and produce violence, causing the loss of lives and further dividing the
country.

Though we are aware of the gravity of this new development, we are quite cognizant
that when the former Togolese leader, Gnassingbe Eyadéma's demise was followed
by a coup, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
played a critical role in seeking a temporary solution between the various political
parties. As a result of pressure from the international community led by ECOWAS,
the constitution was followed, the National Assembly speaker took over as interim
president, and elections were held within 60 days as the constitution calls for.
Given the fact that all parties expressed confidence in ECOWAS, which provided
official observers, it is incumbent on all to accept their verdict which states
that: "though there were some regrettable incidents pertaining to the elections,
given the margin by which the president-elect won the election, they would not
have changed the overall results."

I therefore call upon and affirm my support for the efforts by regional leaders
and institutions, in particular ECOWAS, to promote peace in Togo. The current
initiative taken on April 25, 2005 by the African Union, to encourage dialogue
and national reconciliation in Togo is a step in the right direction, and I further
urge the security forces to exercise restraint.

The World Council of Churches believes that it is critical to find a sustainable
solution during this difficult period. All parties should strive to adhere to the
rule of law and use the available legal and constitutional means to resolve any
misgivings or dissatisfaction relating to the outcome of the elections. The consequences
of electoral disputes in some parts of the continent of Africa are too obvious
not to serve as a learning tool.

The World Council of Churches calls upon all citizens of Togo, its member
churches, the government of Togo, the various political parties and opposition
leaders and all peace-loving Togolese to denounce this new wave of violence, support
the efforts of ECOWAS and the African Union and offer the needed protection
for people in danger, as a solution is sought to bring sustainable peace in Togo.

We express our solidarity with you and ask God's manifold blessings upon you
in these trying times.

Sincerely,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary