International observers on Thursday raised concerns about violence in Togo before elections later this month, which the government has said will go ahead despite the unrest and an opposition boycott. The tiny west African country has seen a wave of opposition protests since last year calling for a limit to the number of presidential terms and a two-round voting system. Protestors have also called for the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe, who has been in power since 2005 after taking over from his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema. On Thursday, the UN, European Union and the embassies of the United States, France and Germany said they were following the situation in Togo “with concern”. In a joint statement they said they “regret the deaths and violence” and “await the results of the investigations announced by the government” following the last protests.
“They underline the need to preserve a climate of peace and avoid all forms of violence,” they added. Amnesty International voiced similar concerns and said the authorities “continue to fuel the violence by deploying military officers carrying firearms to protest sites”.
The group’s regional director for West and Central Africa, Evelyne Petrus Barry, said that risked “exacerbating an already tense situation”.
The human rights organisation also criticised a new cybersecurity law passed on December 7. It “significantly restricts freedom of expression” with “vague terrorism and treason related provisions” that carry hefty jail terms and could “easily be misused”, said Amnesty.