Political Turmoil in Togo: Arrests Amidst Constitutional Reform Controversy

Nine politicians from Togo, campaigning against constitutional changes that would potentially enable President Faure Gnassingbe to prolong his 19-year tenure, have been detained, according to a representative from an opposition group on Thursday.

The debate is intensifying in the small West African nation, known for its phosphate production, over constitutional amendments that could alter the presidential election process. According to Thomas Nsoukpoe, a spokesperson, some members of the opposition were arrested on Wednesday afternoon while campaigning against the constitutional changes at a market on the outskirts of the capital, Lome. Additional arrests occurred during an evening meeting at a coalition member’s home.

The opposition initiated their campaign following the national assembly’s approval of the new constitution, which extends the presidential term to six years from five and introduces a single-term limit. The revised constitution also transitions the government to a parliamentary system, with the president being elected by parliament members instead of the general populace.

This constitutional revision does not consider the incumbent president’s already served terms, potentially allowing Gnassingbe to remain in office until 2031 if he secures re-election in 2025. Following the opposition’s outcry, the president’s office announced a delay in the originally planned parliamentary and regional elections set for April 20 and initiated nationwide consultations on the constitutional amendments. This move was criticized by several political groups, prompting calls for protests on April 11, 12, and 13.

They argued that once the electoral process has been officially initiated, it cannot be halted or postponed merely by an announcement. The president’s office has yet to respond to inquiries regarding the arrests made on Wednesday.

About Geraldine Boechat 2711 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia