Togo Opposition Rebuffs Mediators, Continues Nationwide Protest

LOME (Capital Markets in Africa) – Togo’s opposition rejected a joint statement from three regional diplomatic blocs urging the government to set a date for a referendum about constitutional change, as nationwide protests continued for a second day.

The African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, known as Ecowas, and the United Nations Office for West Africa called on the Togolese government to fix a date for a nationwide poll on a proposal to limit the number of presidential terms to two five-year mandates.

The draft bill is “an important step in bringing Togo in conformity with democratic norms reflecting best practices in West Africa,” according to the statement on the Ecowas website. The organizations “encourage the opposition to take this opportunity to further advance the constitutional reforms.”

As marches against the proposal resumed Thursday, with thousands of people protesting in at least six cities, the opposition said the organizations were choosing the side of the government.

“We want nothing to do with this referendum,” opposition spokesman Dodji Apevon said by phone from the capital, Lome.

The draft legislation was adopted by parliament last month amid fierce protest from a coalition of opposition groups, which seeks more far-reaching changes and wants the cap on presidential terms to be applied retroactively to bar President Faure Gnassingbe from running again. Gnassingbe has been in office since 2005, succeeding his father, who ruled the nation for 38 years. The changes have to be approved in a referendum before they can take effect.

Source: Bloomberg Business News


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