Togolese nationals set to protest at the UN against 50-year ruling dynasty

March 16, 2018 at 01:42 pm | News

Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei | Contributor

March 16, 2018 at 01:42 pm | News

Togolese protesters in Paris, France -- Photo: Pascal Van

Togolese nationals in the United States have planned a protest in front of the United Nations building in New York City to demand the resignation of their president Faure Gnassingbe.

The protest scheduled for Saturday is an extension of the series of marches held back home in Togo since last year calling for an end to the 51-year-old Gnassingbe dynasty which was passed on from father to son.

One of the organisers, Claudine Essosolim posted a flyer for the New York protest on Twitter which says the protest is in support of the 14-party opposition coalition which is leading the protest in Togo. The message they are conveying is: “51 years of dictatorship is enough, Faure must go”.

The next series of protests in Togo are scheduled for March 20, 21, 22 and 24 demanding the resignation of Faure Gnassingbe, according to Togolese human rights activist Farida Nabourema.

The coalition is also calling on all Togolese transport service workers to observe a strike on Monday to denounce police harassment and corruption.

President Faure Gnassingbe has been in power since the death of his father Gnassingbe Eyadema in 2005, who had spent 38 years in office. He was a minister at the time of his father’s death and was sworn in as acting president by the military instead of the President of the National Assembly.

He resigned a few days later after pressure from the international and regional communities. Faure stood for the disputed 2005 elections months later and won, leading to deadly protests and displacement of thousands of people.

The elections were described as fraudulent by election observer groups and the protests in 2005 were met with violence by the security forces leaving over a hundred people killed and several opposition members arrested.

At the end of his mandate, the 1992 constitution which stipulates a two five-year term limit for a president was set aside by a one-sided parliament for Faure to continue his third term bid in 2015.

The country’s 14-party opposition coalition called for him to step down via nearly weekly protests that started with violence in August. Togolese security forces killed at least 16 protesters while hundreds were injured, arrested and jailed. Internet connection was cut and intermittently.

They also demanded the return of the original 1992 Constitution that stipulates a two five-year term limit for presidents as well as a two-round voting system. Also, the introduction of diaspora voting, independent inquiry into the deaths of protesters and the delivery of justice, the immediate release of political detainees and the cessation of arrests and persecution.

The deaths and damage to properties drove the Gnassingbe government to table a bill in parliament to amend the constitution, adopt measures including the withdrawal of plain-clothed security officers and the embedding of members of the civil society to observe the protests.

The opposition rejected the draft bill meant to modify the controversial Article 59 of the constitution. It excluded the clause that says “no one can serve more than two terms” which the opposition believe is a ploy to allow Faure to stand for a fourth term in 2020.

The current chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) commented on the protests once saying he is an elected leader yet social media is being used to portray him as a “bloodthirsty dictator”.

Presidents of Ghana and Guinea, Nana Akufo-Addo and Alpha Conde have respectively called for talks between the government and the opposition to solve the crisis.

Most viewed

Conversations

Must Read