The former Archbishop of Lomé, Monsignor Philippe Kpodzro, known for his unwavering advocacy for political change in Togo, died at the age of 93 in Sweden. The Catholic dignitary, in exile in Europe for the past three years, was a prominent figure during the last presidential election in Togo.
Despite expressing a passionate desire to witness political alternation in his homeland, Monsignor Kpodzro, a symbol of resistance in Togo’s political struggle, passed away without witnessing this change. His demise, occurring thousands of kilometers away from his native land, confirms speculations that had been circulating on social media this Tuesday morning.
Retired since 2007, Monsignor Kpodzro became a poignant symbol of opposition in Togo. He vehemently denounced dictatorship, mismanagement, embezzlement of public funds, human rights violations, and championed the cause of freedom and democracy. Like many other Togolese citizens including journalists with dissenting political views, he chose exile.
Leading the coalition bearing his name and included different opposing groups and community organizations, Monsignor Kpodzro strongly supported the DMK (Dynamique Monseigneur Kpodzro). He notably endorsed Messan Agbéyomé Kodjo, who represented the coalition in the February 2020 presidential elections. While the party was questioning the election results, the Constitutional Courts confirmed Faure Gnassingbé as the winner, leading to the exile of many party leaders.
Born on March 30, 1930, Monsignor Philippe Fanoko Kossi Kpodzro was ordained bishop of Atakpamé on May 2, 1976, serving for sixteen and a half years before his appointment as Archbishop of Lomé on December 17, 1992. In total, he dedicated 40 years of his life to the Catholic Church, including 16 as the bishop of Atakpamé.
In 1990, Monsignor Philippe Kpodzro played a pivotal role in the Sovereign National Conference in Togo. Additionally, he served as the President of the Provisional National Assembly for nearly three years between 1991 and 1994. Under his leadership, the High Council of the Republic (HCR) gave birth to the Constitution of the Fourth Republic on October 14, 1992, limiting the presidential term to two for a duration of five years, renewable only once.