Togo’s former lawmaker and opposition leader, Nicodeme Ayao Habia has embarked on an indefinite hunger strike today at the Ghanaian High Commission in the Togolese capital, Lomé.
The former Member of Parliament and head of “the Democrats” party began his protest six days ago in front of Ghana’s embassy amid the current political crisis in the tiny West-African nation.
Habia is calling on the government of Togo to release opposition supporters who were arrested during anti-government demonstrations in the country late last year and earlier this year.
“I am on hunger strike to demand the release of all people who were arrested during protests by the opposition coalition who are still languishing in prison,” Habia told reporters on Monday.
In his words, he will not “move from here as long as these people are in prison.”
On Monday, police stormed the embassy of Ghana and tried to move the lawmaker along but, a prompt move from his supporters and the staff of the embassy prevented his arrest.
Habia held a two-day hunger strike previously this month in front of the US Embassy in Lome last week.
As a reminder, some 44 people who were arrested during opposition protests against President Faure Gnassingbé and his government remain in prison, according to the opposition coalition in Togo.
President Faure Gnassingbé has led the Togolese since 2005, but has faced calls to step down for more than a year as protesters have taken to the streets.
The frequently violent marches and clashes forced the government and its ruling Union for the Republic (UNIR) party to hold national political dialogues but they’ve failed to bring about any consensus on political change.
President Nana Akufo-Addo and facilitators of the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) body are continuing the organization’s role in mediating the crisis with meetings in Lomé.
The opposition wants all prisoners who were detained during the political demonstrations to be released in keeping with an ECOWAS recommendation made last month.