World Council of Churches

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

Concern about presidential elections

21 April 2005

Letter to H.E. Mamadou Tandja, Chairperson, Economic Community of West Africa
and President of the Republic of Niger, 21 April, 2005

Your Excellency,

I greet you on behalf of the global ecumenical movement and congratulate you
on your election as Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States
(ECOWAS). The courageous and decisive action of imposing sanctions on the
Togolese government forced Mr Faure Gnassingbe to resign as President of Togo,
giving way for presidential elections. The statement of the ECOWAS Secretary
General: "This is a big victory for Togo. It is a victory for Africa. We have set new
standards of government in Africa, and we must be seen to respect and to live up
to these new expirations - respect for constitution and the rule of law," is extremely
important. The World Council is fully supportive of the spirit in which these
decisions were made. Notwithstanding this, the situation calls for an intensive
and focused monitoring by ECOWAS.

The World Council of Churches, together with our ecumenical partners, sent
an ecumenical delegation to Togo to express solidarity with the people and churches
in that country. According to the report of the delegation there is concern, if
not fear, about the forthcoming presidential elections scheduled for 24 April. The
Council shares this concern and fear because it is difficult, if not impossible, to
organize a free and fair election within six weeks in a country not known for democratic
culture. The ecumenical delegation in its report states: "The time-scale
determined for the forthcoming presidential elections was technically too short
to be able to inspire the necessary trust and transparency and results acceptable
to all."

We have received disturbing information about clashes during the weekend
between government and opposition supporters in Lomé where a number of people
were killed and wounded.

We urge Your Excellency to consider using your influence and good offices, if
possible, to extend the election date. Should that not be feasible, all efforts should
be made to ensure that peaceful elections are held under a vigilant monitoring
system. We believe the time has come for the people of Togo to have a democratically-
elected government that is accountable to them.

Sincerely yours,

Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia
General Secretary

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