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Togo: President Gnassingbe under pressure

In Togo, protesters are calling for the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe. The opposition is confident that it will be successful in forcing a change in government. But will the president go voluntarily?

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of people have taken to the streets of Togo, calling for the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe.The most recent protest took place on Thursday, where riot police fired tear gas at a crowd of people who had gathered at the capital, Lome. Demonstrators said they were determined to stay in the streets all night, but were eventually dispersed by security forces.

It's the first time in Togo's history that the country's opposition parties have formed a united mass movement of more than 100,000 people. Clad in yellow and red t-shirts, the protestors shout "Free Togo!", "Faure must go!" and "50 years are enough!" – a clear message to the Gnassingbe family dynasty who have led the country since the 1967 coup d'état.

These demonstrations have been taking place across the country since August. Opposition leaders had been hoping to force the government to initiate reforms. So far, two people have been killed in the protests and at least 13 injured, as security forces retaliate. Although most rallies held this week have remained peaceful, the situation is tense, culminating in a shutdown of mobile internet services on Wednesday.

The opposition however remains undeterred. "We will continue to pursue our goals," the leader of the Pan-African National Party (PNP), Tikpi Salifou Atchadam, told DW. They want the 1992 Constitution of Togo to be amended to limit the presidential term to two five-year terms. They also want Togolese citizens living abroad to be able to participate in elections: of approximately seven million Togolese, around two million live outside of the country.


Concord Newsdesk

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