Togo opposition leader in Ghana after hunger strike

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A Togolese opposition leader who had been on hunger strike was evacuated to a hospital in Ghana after his health deteriorated, his relatives said Wednesday.

Nicodeme Ayao Habia, who had refused food since September 19, was evacuated to Ghana’s capital of Accra on Tuesday after his condition worsened, his communication advisor Achille Mensah told AFP.

“Mr. Habia was admitted to a clinic in the Ghanaian capital since yesterday after his health deteriorated. For the moment he is under medical supervision, he has not yet received any treatment,” Mensah said.

“It was on Saturday that he ended his strike, only taking fruit,” he said.

Habia had been staging his hunger strike in front of the Ghanaian embassy in Lome.

Accra has been acting as a mediator in a long-running dispute between the Togolese government and opposition figures over constitutional reform.

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.

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?”

Faure Gnassingbe has been in power since 2005 after succeeding his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who led the small West African country with an iron fist.

He has opposed changes to the constitution that would put a limit on presidential terms, sparking nationwide protests.