Israel-Africa summit cancelled as Togo unrest continues

Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli Foreign Minister

Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli Foreign Minister

The Israel-Africa summit scheduled for late October in Lome, Togo’s capital has been postponed indefinitely due to rising unrest in the country, according to a spokesperson for the Israeli foreign ministry.

Emmanuel Nahshon told Al Jazeera that the decision to postpone the event had nothing to do with the threats of boycott, and rather with the ongoing political instability in Togo.

“The decision was linked to the internal situation in Togo. The situation is seen to be unstable, and they [Togo’s presidency] asked to postpone,” he said.

“It has nothing to do with pressure or threats of boycott. We didn’t want to go and place an added burden on Togo.”

Both the Israeli government and organisers of Israel-Africa summit said on Monday that the summit had been postponed at the request of the President of Togo and after consultations with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.

Both the organisers and Israeli government were unable to provide a possible new date for the summit.

“In the near future, Israel will hold consultations in Africa, both on the bilateral level as well as in regional gatherings and fora on the continent, in order to guarantee the full success of the summit,” a statement from the organisers of the summit read.

Togo has seen a series of anti-government protests in late August and early September.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets to demand that President Faure Gnassingbe step down.

The protests are seen as the biggest challenge to his family’s power since the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, in 2005.

Eyadema ruled Togo for 38 years after seizing the country in a coup in 1967.

In response to the protests, authorities have cracked down on demonstrators, resulting in at least two deaths. Internet and communications were also cut for at least six days.

In a statement on Monday, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said a boycott campaign was instrumental in the cancellation of the summit.

Mazin Shamiyeh, adviser to Riyad al-Maliki, Palestine’s foreign minister, told Al Jazeera that Togo has been under pressure from the Arab and Muslim world and if the summit had gone ahead, it would have given Israel the greenlight to continue its human rights violations and occupation.

“The cancellation of the summit is also due to the administrative, political, and financial corruption of Togo’s government. -Aljazeera


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