'I’m alive because of Ghana' - Togo opposition leader discharged after hunger strike

'I’m alive because of Ghana' - Togo opposition leader discharged after hunger strike
Source: Ghana|myjoyonline.com|edwin.appiah@myjoyonline.com
Date: 07-11-2018 Time: 06:11:57:pm
Habia Ayao Nicodeme

The Togolese opposition leader has been discharged from hospital in Accra after weeks of hunger strike in protest against the Faure Gnassingbe government.

Habia Ayao Nicodeme who began the strike on September 19, 2018, was treated at the Nyaho Clinic in Accra after the hunger strike threatened his health in Togo.

He has been in Ghana since October 9, 2018, after he was assisted by the Ghana government to come through the Ghana-Togo border.

Togo's opposition has repeatedly called for a limit of two, five-year terms for the president and the resignation of Faure Gnassingbe which would bring an end to half a century rule by the Gnassingbe dynasty.

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Photo: Togo's President Faure Gnassingbe

Incumbent Faure Gnassingbe has been in charge since 2005 and his third 5-year term which started in 2015 and is due to expire in 2020 when elections are next held.

Several protesters have died since street protests began in August 2017 including a 10-year-old child, three teenagers and two soldiers.

Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) after several weeks of silence intervened after meeting government and opposition figures.

The roadmap included the release of political prisoners, constitutional and instutional reforms and the inclusion of the opposition in the organisation of the 2020 elections.

Habia Ayao Nicodeme who expressed disappointment in his government’s posture towards the ECOWAS roadmap said he began a hunger strike, spending two days in front of the US embassy in Togo.

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Photo: Habia on hunger strike

Habia began his strike to call for the release from prison of over 40 opposition activists who were arrested during protests demanding the resignation of Togo's President Faure Gnassingbe.

He later moved to the Ghana Embassy and abstained from food for “many days”.

His action attracted Ghana government’s attention but plans to bring him into Ghana for treatment was twice blocked by Togolese authorities, he said.

In September, a Ghanaian military plane landed in Lome to transport Habia for medical care but it was not allowed to leave the airport due to a lack of detail about its mission, according to Togo's security minister General Yark Damehane.

"Togo is not a colony of Ghana," said Damehane, adding that Ghana could not send a plane without letting the Togolese authorities know first.

Referring to Habia's hunger strike, Damehane said: "It's theatre. You want us to play along?"

Despite receiving treatment, the opposition politician told Joy News’ Fred Smith “I am recovering but I can say I am still on hunger strike…I have just reduced it”.

He said he only takes porridge, drinks a lot of water and eats lots of fruits.

“It is because of Ghana government that I am alive today”, he thanked President Nana Akufo-Addo.

Mr. Nicodeme demanded sanctions against Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe as an ECOWAS mediation gets underway in the Guinean capital Conakry.