Opposition parties protest in Togo ahead of elections

Several thousand Togolese opposition supporters held a third demonstration in a fortnight on Saturday in and beyond  the capital Lome to demand a halt to preparations for December 20 polls.

The main opposition coalition in the western African nation which has seen more than a year of unrest has vowed to boycott the elections alleging the process is “fraudulent.”

The 14-party coalition, which suspended its rallies for several months amid efforts at dialogue brokered by the ECOWAS regional grouping is demanding the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe.

Gnassingbe has ruled the former French colony since 2005, following the death of his father who reigned for 38 years.

But the polls are set to go ahead without the coalition parties with Togo’s Constitutional Court having cleared only 12 other parties and approved 17 independent candidates to contest the election.

The government announced in late September that it would call legislative elections and also a referendum on constitutional reform.

But despite the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) mediation attempts the opposition has continued to demand a shake-up of Togo’s electoral authority and a reboot of election preparations, saying it will otherwise boycott the process.

One demand is the revamping of the nominally independent electoral commission.

“The demonstrations are ongoing. One cannot organise elections in the current context where a large majority of the population oppose the unilateral organisation of the vote,” opposition leader Jean Pierre Fabre told AFP.

“We do not want elections as elections are never clear in Togo. We are tired of this regime and we want change,” said Shakira Yacoubou, a supporter of the Pan-African Democratic Party.

“We only have one weapon — that is to march. This time we shall not give up, we shall keep on to the end. There will be no elections,” said another opposition supporter, Anani Moglodji.

Rallies took place in several towns beyond Lome, residents sold AFP as the opposition steps up its efforts to void the poll more than a year after a large-scale September 2017 rally which saw thousands demand Gnassingbe step down.


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