Togo’s parliament has extended for 12 months the state of security emergency in the Savanes region, in the far north of the country, to help prevent incursions by jihadist groups across the border with Burkina Faso.
Decreed in June 2022 by President Faure Gnassingbé, the state of emergency ended a few weeks ago, after a first extension of six months in September.
On Thursday, Togo’s parliament voted to extend the measure for another year.
A state of security emergency allows security forces and local authorities more flexibility to take urgent measures to combat threats from militant groups.
Speaking before lawmakers on Thursday, Minister of Security General Damehame Yark said that “the situation remains worrying” in the far north of the country, “in view of the persistence of new attempts, most of them valiantly repelled by our defence and security forces”.
Togo is a small country in West Africa sandwiched between Benin in the east, Ghana in the west and Burkina Faso in the north.
Since November 2021, it has been subject to attacks in the far north, near the border with Burkina Faso, where jihadist groups control large parts of that country.
Attacks have multiplied in recent months in Togo’s border areas, according to reports in the local press. But since August 2022, neither the government nor the army has communicated on the security situation in the far north of the country.
“It’s a choice because we have to protect our defence and security forces,” a Togolese official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The Togolese opposition and civil society organisations have repeatedly denounced the “silence” of the authorities.
“The government must communicate to situate us on the ground realities, which will allow the Togolese to take stock of the security situation in the north of the country,” Gerard Adja, one of the leaders of the Dynamique Monseigneur Kpodzro (DMK), a group of opposition political parties and civil society organizations, told AFP.
“Not doing it in time and continuing to practice the governance of lies constitutes a high risk for all of us.”
In February, the World Food Program (WFP) and China carried out an “emergency food assistance” operation for people displaced by attacks.
Ghana, Togo, Benin and Ivory Coast are increasingly cooperating and sharing intelligence in a bid to better combat the threat from across their northern borders.