Mon, 17 Jun 2019

Opposition supporters on Saturday clashed with security forces in Togo's capital, Lome, and teargas was fired in the north, after the government banned protests about upcoming elections.

A coalition of 14 opposition political parties this week announced a series of 10 new protests in the run-up to parliamentary elections planned for December 20.

The opposition is boycotting the polls because of alleged irregularities in its organisation but this week the government banned the marches on security grounds.

In several areas of the capital, in particular the Agoes suburb, youths set up barricades and burned tyres. Security forces reacted by firing teargas and chased protesters.

In the northern cities of Sokode and Bafilo, 350km north of Lome, opposition supporters attempted to assemble for a demonstration.

But they, too, were dispersed with teargas.

Sokode is a stronghold of the Pan-African National Party (PNP) of Tikpi Atchadam, who was behind the first countrywide street protests but is now thought to be in exile in Ghana for his own safety.

The coalition wants constitutional reform to re-introduce a limit of two terms of office for presidents, as well as an overhaul of the independent national electoral commission.

Togo has been hit by a wave of protests since September last year, calling for the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe, who has been in power since 2005.

Before that, his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, was president for 38 years.

Earlier this week, evangelical, Presbyterian and Methodist churches in Togo called for the election to be delayed for several months because of concern about its organisation.

On Friday night, senior Muslim leaders also called for a delay.

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