A former Togolese interior minister in the Gnassingbé Eyadema regime, François Boko, who has been in exile in France since 2005, was on Thursday prevented from boarding an Air France flight to Lomé.
According to an airport source, “the information provided by the Togolese Ministry of Immigration showed Boko did not possess a Togolese passport or a foreign passport with a visa allowing him entry into Togo.
Another source reported that the former minister and opposition figure, had been denied boarding with about 20 other people, on the instructions from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Air France yielded to pressure and intimidation and refused to allow me on board because the Togolese authorities reportedly threatened to prevent the plane from landing”.
Among the people who were prevented from boarding with him were two lawyers and three collaborators, according to Boko, a Franco-Togolese citizen.
“I had my French passport and my Togolese civil status certificate, so I was not worried as the visa had not been an issue,” noting that dual nationalities are exempt from visa requirements as long as they have a document certifying their membership in Togo.
Speaking to AFP, Francois Boko said “Air France yielded to pressure and intimidation and refused to allow me on board because the Togolese authorities reportedly threatened to prevent the plane from landing”.
François Boko, who is reported to be considering contesting in the April 2020 presidential poll claimed that Togolese authorities had been informed of his return.
A presidential spokesman denied accusations that the government was trying to buy time to prevent Boko from participating in the 2020 presidential election. He added “We don’t even know he is a candidate”
According to Toba Tanama “Togo is a state governed by the rule of law and open and does not need to prohibit anyone from entering its territory, whether Togolese or not”.
Since the middle of 2017, Togo has been the scene of massive demonstrations by the opposition, demanding the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbé, who succeeded his father in 2005 as head of Togo.