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.
Articles about voting issues in the Togolese Republic.
At least two people were killed in Togo when police clashed with demonstrators during a banned nationwide protest, in an explosion of tension before disputed parliamentary elections later this month. Four policemen were also hurt, and authorities arrested 28 people in the capital, Lome, and Bafilo, 250 kilometers (150 miles) north of the city, the government said in a statement that was read out on state-owned Television Togolaise Saturday. It confirmed the two deaths. Opposition spokeswoman Brigitte Kafui Adjamagbo said one of the people killed was nine years old. Several more people were wounded when police opened fire with live ammunition, she said.
Opposition parties have held a series of protests across the country calling for the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe. Togo’s government has banned a series of planned opposition protests on security grounds, saying the marches posed a security risk. A coalition of 14 opposition parties announced earlier this week that they would boycott a parliamentary election planned for December 20 and instead try to stop the electoral process. But the government said on Wednesday in a letter seen by AFP that they would not be allowed to take to the streets.
Togo’s opposition coalition has called for workers across the country to stay at home on Tuesday as campaigning starts for parliamentary elections later this month. The West African nation’s main opposition has vowed to boycott elections over alleged fraud and is demanding President Faure Gnassingbe resign after more than a decade in power. “We don’t want fraudulent elections in this country,” coalition coordinator Brigitte Adjamagbo-Johnson said in a video published on social media on Sunday evening.
Togo’s main opposition plans to hold nationwide protests on Thursday to demand the government halts preparations for Dec. 20 local elections in which only some small parties and independent candidates will participate. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to demand an end to the rule of President Faure Gnassingbe last year, prompting talks led by Ghana and Guinea. While the negotiations resulted in a date for the local vote, the opposition says that the government hasn’t fulfilled promises it made to mediators of the Economic Community of West African States, known as Ecowas.
The main opposition coalition in Togo said on Monday it will boycott December 20 general elections and call for further protests over what it alleged was a “fraudulent” poll. “We’re not going to give our blessing to this masquerade being prepared,” a co-ordinator in the coalition, Brigitte Adjamagbo-Johnson, told local radio. Togo’s Constitutional Court has validated ballots for 12 parties – but not any for the 14-party opposition coalition that has staged protests in the former French colony over the past year. Ballots for 17 independent candidates have also been approved.
Togo will hold legislative and local elections in December as well as a referendum on constitutional reform. “We will hold the local elections and the referendum on December 16, and on December 20 we will organise legislative elections,” national election commission chief Kodjona Kadanga said on Tuesday. “We are technically prepared. I can assure you that we have sufficient balloting material as well as people. There are no problems on our side.” Kadanga did not specify what reforms were envisaged. Togo’s latest political crisis started in August 2017, when large numbers of people rallied against the administration of President Faure Gnassingbe. Mass anti-government rallies have repeatedly been held across the country since, with protesters demanding an end to the 50-year rule by the Gnassingbe family and constitutional reform, including a two-term limit for presidents.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Togo’s capital Lome on Saturday, against President Faure Gnassingbe and his government. The protest came the day after mediators from Ghana and Guinea said that Togo will enter talks on controversial constitutional reform February 15, in a move aimed at ending a crippling political stalemate. A rolling series of demonstrations against President Gnassingbe have been unfolding for several months, and the country has been rocked by striking teachers and health workers.
Internet connection has been intermittent in Togo hours ahead of another planned protest for the reinstatement of the 1992 constitution that stipulates a two-term presidential limit. The internet slowdown started last night after the boycott of a constitutional reform vote by the opposition in parliament who described it as a sham, and called for another round of demonstrations on Wednesday and Thursday. Bandwidth has been reduced and WhatsApp has been totally blocked in the country creating difficulties in accessing the internet, Togolese journalist Emmanuel Agbenonwossi told Africanews.
Togo’s opposition stayed away from parliament on Tuesday, blocking the passage of the government’s bill for political reform and forcing a referendum. The bill was published last week on the eve of protests calling for a revision of the constitution that developed into demands for President Faure Gnassingbe to step down. A four-fifths majority was needed for it to be approved but the opposition no-show meant it only secured 62 out of 91 votes, with one abstention. Eric Dupuy, spokesman for the main opposition National Alliance for Change (ANC) party, called the National Assembly session a “sham”.