Thousands protest in Togo demanding presidential term limits

YoHRA is calling on the regional body, African Union (AU) as well as the sub-regional body, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to act in protection of the fundamental human rights of the protesters. “The (draft) law on mandates comes too late”, Jean-Pierre Fabre, the head of the main ANC opposition party told supporters on Wednesday.

Many brandished placards denouncing the regime of President Faure Gnassingbe, whose family has been in power for the last 50 years.

The president’s father Gnassingbe Eyadema seized power in a coup in 1967, a few years after the territory known as “French Togoland” that was once in German hands became independent from colonial power France. “Now we are simply demanding a return to the 1992 constitution”. The current president’s cabinet adopted a proposed bill Tuesday that reinstates presidential term limits. Before his death, he modified the constitution to extend his rule.

However, the parliament which is now on summer vacation only returns for its next sitting in October and exact details of the proposals remain vague.

Most of Togo’s opposition parties chose to come together Lome and some 10 provincial cities on Wednesday, despite the government’s apparent olive branch.

The opposition want the original two five-year term limit be restored, a two-ballot system, reform of the Constitutional Court and the Electoral Commission.

A coalition of opposition parties called for the demonstrations.

“I think the people have made up their mind because they’re fed up”, he added, calling on Gnassingbe to “leave by the front door”.

According to him, “I believe that President Gnassingbe will have to do something about it (the protests)”.

These developments portend possible unrest.

His comments are in sync with the demands of the country’s protesters.

In August, several people also lost their lives in the city of Sokode during anti-Gnassinbge protests.

This followed days of violent anti-government protests which resulted in the deaths of at least three with several others injured.

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