Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Togo opposition announces resumption of protest demos

Togo’s opposition coalition on Tuesday said it would resume its protests against President Faure Gnassingbe and his government, despite both sides having agreed to a suspension during talks.

The grouping of 14 parties’ spokesperson, Eric Dupuy, told AFP: “We have decided to start our protests again for four days next week: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.”

Dupuy said the decision was taken since the government had not honoured a commitment about preparations for parliamentary elections, which are due to be held at some point this year.

Last week, the government made appointments to independent local electoral commissions across the small West African country.

The opposition and the government began talks on February 19 to thrash out a way forward, following months of street protests that mobilised hundreds of thousands nationwide.

The closed-door talks, brokered by Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, have been adjourned since their second session on February 23.

Dupuy said discussions “had not moved forward because the ruling party is backing the candidacy of Faure Gnassingbe (at the next presidential election) in 2020”.

“We will never accept that. He’s already done two terms and is currently on his third,” he added.

Gnassingbe has been in power since 2005, taking over on the death of his father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, who himself ruled Togo for 38 years.

The opposition wants a return to Togo’s 1992 constitution, which set a two-term limit for presidents, applied retroactively, to prevent Gnassingbe standing in 2020 and 2025.

The government has proposed a two-term limit but without the retroactive element.

Akufo-Addo invited a delegation from Togo’s opposition coalition to Accra on Tuesday. He has promised to consult with both parties separately in Accra before talks resume in Lome.

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