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”.
As he ended proceedings, assembly president Dama Dramani said: “For want of this majority, the bill, passed with a two-thirds majority… is subject to a referendum. “The people will therefore have their say.”
Government minister Payadowa Boukpessi called the parliamentary vote “democratic” and said the referendum would be held “in the coming months”, without specifying a date.
Only 57 deputies were present for the extraordinary hearing, 56 of them from Gnassingbe’s Union for the Republic (UNIR) party. Six others voted by proxy.
Full Article: Togo’s opposition boycotts constitutional reform vote.