Death toll rises to two in Togo after clashes in opposition stronghold
Two people died on Monday in Sokode, an opposition stronghold in central Togo, following days of violence between security forces and opposition supporters, sources said.
A man was shot dead and another was beaten and thrown into a fire after clashes broke out over the weekend ahead of legislative elections scheduled to take place later this month.
“This morning the military blocked all the streets and demanded the children to go home,” said Ouro Akpo Tchagnaou, a local politician from the opposition party ANC (National Alliance for Change).
“A young man was shot dead,” said Tchagnaou.
A witness at the scene told AFP that the man was shot in the street.
“The situation is really tense,” said the resident on condition of anonymity.
“Nothing is moving, the military are breaking up all the rallies and youths are setting up barricades in the streets to stop the military from coming to town,” he said.
A video of the shot man covered in blood on the ground went viral on social media, the opposition’s main tool to gather support.
The second man died in the district of Koulounde, said another witness: “He was beaten and thrown into the fire.”
Aime Adi, Amnesty International’s representative for Togo, confirmed to AFP that two people died.
At least two other people have died in violence this weekend according to official accounts, while the opposition puts the death toll higher at three.
Four members of the security forces were injured and 28 protestors were arrested, said the government in a statement published on Saturday evening.
The protests come after a year of political crisis and failed negotiations between Togo’s government and the opposition, led by the regional bloc the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The coalition of 14 opposition parties is boycotting the upcoming legislative elections scheduled for December 20, denouncing “irregularities” in their preparation and calling for demonstrations to stop the vote.
These protests were banned by the government which warned of the “very high risk of serious disturbances to public order” as campaigning got underway last Tuesday.
The tiny West African country has seen repeat protests calling for the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe.
The president has been in office since 2005 when he took over from his father, who led Togo for 38 years.