A president of an opposition party in Togo Nicodeme Ayao Habia, has entered day 10 of his hunger strike saying “physically I’m very weak but spiritually and mentally I am strong”.
Habia lies on a mat in front of the Ghanaian embassy in Lome, where he is demanding the release of protesters who have been detained for months after demonstrating against the ruling regime.
“Doctors come every day, I get seen by them. The rest is up to me. If I can make this sacrifice for change in my country, I should do it. I don’t fear for my life, what’s important for me is the release of the prisoners. I’m here to show the world what’s happening in Togo” he says.
The West African bloc ECOWAS stepped in early this year to negotiate between Togo’s government and the opposition after months of protests with people calling for the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe. The opposition parties had obtained the release of about 40 people arrested in connection with protests and 10 others were released in early September.
However, according to the leaders of the coalition of 14 opposition parties, there are still 44 people languishing in Togolese prisons who are yet to have their case heard in court. The minister of justice maintains that their situation will be examined on a case-by-case basis.
So far, Habia has refused to break his fast, only drinking water to stay alive. On Monday, he was visited by police. “When they arrived, they told me to get out quickly and knowing my rights, I resisted and turned back. I’m not here to hurt anyone. I’m here to call attention to the national and international community for the release of my compatriots” he said.