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Togo Faces Renewed Protests Over Constitutional Changes

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Ayize claire

Apr 21, 2024

The U.S. State Department's Africa Bureau has expressed deep concerns

The constitutional changes in Togo reflect a broader trend observed in several African countries where leaders have manipulated legal frameworks to extend their tenure. Instances of such legal adjustments have occurred in the Central African Republic, Rwanda, Congo Republic, Ivory Coast, and Guinea.
President Faure Gnassingbe

Opposition groups in Togo have intensified their calls for mass protests following the approval of constitutional amendments by the parliament, which could potentially extend President Faure Gnassingbe's rule. Gnassingbe has been in power since 2005, following the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had seized power in a 1967 coup.


On Friday, Togolese lawmakers passed reforms to the presidential election process and the governmental structure, triggering concerns both domestically and internationally. Under the new system, the president will no longer be elected through direct public vote but will instead be selected by parliament members. This change, coupled with the introduction of a parliamentary government and reduced presidential terms from five to four years, still allows Gnassingbe to potentially remain in office until 2033 due to the non-retroactive nature of the term limits.


The Dynamique pour la Majorité du Peuple (DMP) opposition coalition, along with other civil society groups, has labeled the parliamentary approval a "coup d'etat." They argue that the amendments were passed without adequate public disclosure and debate. The DMP has announced plans for significant protests in the coming days to oppose what they see as an undemocratic move to entrench Gnassingbe’s power.


The U.S. State Department's Africa Bureau has expressed deep concerns regarding the lack of transparency and inclusivity in the amendment process.

"We urge the government to allow open and informed debate, ensure inclusivity and transparency, and respect the right to peaceful assembly," stated a spokesperson on the social media platform X.

The constitutional changes in Togo reflect a broader trend observed in several African countries where leaders have manipulated legal frameworks to extend their tenure. Instances of such legal adjustments have occurred in the Central African Republic, Rwanda, Congo Republic, Ivory Coast, and Guinea.


The situation in Togo remains tense as previous demonstrations against Gnassingbe's government have frequently been met with violent police action, a tactic consistent since his father’s rule. The new constitution also establishes a new role, the president of the council of ministers, vested with significant governmental authority, further consolidating power within the executive branch.


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