Three years after his appointment as Chief of the Defence Staff of the Togolese Armed Forces (FAT), Major General Atcha Titikpina, has just been replaced by the Head of State, Faure Gnassingbé. The information was made public on Friday evening on the State television, TVT.
Mohamed Atcha Titikpina is replaced in his post by Colonel Félix Abalo Kadanga, previously Chief of the Staff of the Togolese Army.
M’ba Koffi Komlan Batanta becomes Chief of the Staff of the Togolese Army while the Navy is entrusted to Ship-of-the-Line Captain Adzoh Vinyo Kwassivi.
Ship-of-the-Line Captain Takougnadi Néyo is appointed Chief of the Military Staff of the President of the Republic.
Everyone was expecting this news of the dismissal of Mohamed Atcha Titikpina since Titi failed not only to appear in media financed by the palace but also in recent army public events.
A few weeks ago we revealed that the United Nations have asked the Togolese Head of State some tough questions regarding the Togolese troops in Mali who were victims of a traffic accident due to the fact that they had to reach that country by road on the orders of the powerful Togolese Chief of Staff instead of by air. So far it is unknown what the President may have answered to the UN agency, but one thing is sure, since this matter, the relationship between Faure Gnassingbé and General Atcha Titikpina Mohamed has been dealt a serious blow.
Sources close to the grande muette (the quiet giant), “General Titi” as the press dubbed him, would be in a closet well-kept since December 24, 2013.
Corroborating sources suggest that, the “Grand Titi”, could be placed on the dock for some kind of plot against the internal security of the State. According to the latest news, he is accused of ordering weapons without the endorsement of the high military hierarchy.
Since 2005 when he was put in charge of the country by the dictate of the armed forces (FAT), the most regular decrees that Faure Gnassingbe had to sign are precisely about the armed forces. Once or twice a year, the Head of State has had to take a decree concerning the army.
Whether managing directors of national companies spend dozens of years in their posts and install some kind of mafia, waste resources of the State for frivolous purposes, is not so much his problem. But he has the time, so uncompromising, to regularly shuffle the army officers, just like pawns, no doubt because he is fully aware that only the army can have a sudden and unpleasant surprise for him, as it had done against the people in the aftermath of the death of general Eyadéma by imposing him in his father’s place.
Naturally, Faure Gnassingbé therefore cannot, under any circumstances, take the risk of forgetting that the reflexes of shortcuts that have motivated the senior officers of the army in 2005 and made them impose him as Head of State, remain still.
The son of Eyadema is therefore right to use of all the faculties which God gave him to control as much as possible, the only organised also disciplined body and thus reduce the risk of reactivation of these reflexes to overthrow regime without any legal basis.
And he knows that whenever he shall appoint a new senior army officer to a position of responsibility, this officer will need a certain number of months to accommodate the requirements of his new position, and meanwhile, the latter have no choice than to devote him respect, loyalty and fidelity.
But as soon as he feels that the officer in question starts to settle and to assume his position, he always finds the way to transfer him before that latter grows horns and installs his network which might be prejudicial to him.
Faure Gnassingbe is not a fool. He is canning, very canning. He has a clear conscience that Félix Katanga, this senior officer of the army he just propelled to the title of Chief of staff of the Togolese Armed Forces, originally from Tchitchao, is not a saint, he is controversial and little loved by the general public.
He also knows that, as his predecessor, this officer drag pans and not the least, since his name has been mentioned in several reports, official as well unofficial, alleging a number of unorthodox practices, and of which he must be guilty.
Félix Katanga has therefore the right profile, he who had the courage to fire tank shells at the home of Kpatcha Gnassingbe, his other step brother in 2009. He who still willingly threaten traditional chiefs and some political leaders, because of crocodiles which hunting is one of his main passions.
Félix Katanga is an officer whose brutality is well known to many Togolese, especially during the twelve years he had spent as Head of the Rapid Intervention Force (FIR) before ending up as Chief of staff of the army.
It is therefore clear that the mission entrusted to this officer from Tchitchao, some people appreciate many for his generosity, is far from being that of reforming the Togolese army. Far from it, he will necessarily replace new pawns at different levels of the Armed Forces, to buy enough time for him and his mentor to clear the Titikpina arsenal.
One must also say that this arsenal put in place by Titi has created serious frustrations within the army. But let’s just hope that beyond the brutality that is known of him, Colonel Katanga will be able at least to restore peace and tranquility within the elements of the FAT awaiting still that their statutes adopted since 2007 are actually operational and promotion in this body obey the standards established for this purpose.