Togo's Opposition Calls on Supporters to Protest Local Election

(Bloomberg) -- Togo’s main opposition plans to hold nationwide protests on Thursday to demand the government halts preparations for Dec. 20 local elections in which only some small parties and independent candidates will participate.

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to demand an end to the rule of President Faure Gnassingbe last year, prompting talks led by Ghana and Guinea. While the negotiations resulted in a date for the local vote, the opposition says that the government hasn’t fulfilled promises it made to mediators of the Economic Community of West African States, known as Ecowas.

“We demand an immediate halt to the electoral process, constitutional and institutional reforms as recommended in the roadmap by Ecowas, and the release of protesters and civil-society activists,” spokeswoman Brigitte Kafui Adjamagbo-Johnson said by phone late Wednesday. Among the agreed changes that haven’t been implemented is an overhaul of the electoral commission, she said.

Togo’s opposition is trying to block government proposals to change the constitution and set a two-term presidential term limit that won’t be applied retroactively, paving the way for Gnassingbe to extend his time in office by another 10 years from 2020. While there aren’t any term limits currently, the coalition of 14 parties seeks to reinstate the 1992 constitution that sets a 10-year limit for presidents.

Faure Gnassingbe has been in power since winning disputed elections in 2005 that were held shortly after the death in office of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled Togo for 38 years. He’s told the Paris-based weekly Jeune Afrique in an interview that he is overseeing key reforms and that the opposition is trying to “take power through street protests.”

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