Thursday, April 18, 2024

Togo’s Opposition Rejects Constitutional Reform, Calls For Protests

In Togo, Activists and opposition leaders have been calling for protests to stop the country’s president from signing off on a new constitution that could scrap future presidential elections and could see Faure Gnassingbé extend his rule.

The constitution, which was passed by the country’s lawmakers earlier this week but now awaits President Faure Gnassingbé’s final approval, grants parliament the power to choose the president, doing away with direct elections.

This makes it possible for Gnassingbé to be re-elected when his mandate expires in 2025.

Some legal experts say the constitution actually restricts the power of future presidents as it introduces a one-term limit and hands over greater power to a figure similar to a prime minister, officially called the president of the council of minister.

But opposition fears the role could become another avenue for Gnassingbé to extend his grip on power.

The president of the council of minister will either be “the leader of the party which secures the majority during the legislative elections.” Or the leader of the winning coalition of parties. He will also rule for a six-year term with no term limit.

The new constitution also increases presidential terms from five to six years. The almost 20-years that Gnassingbé has served in office, after taking over from his father, would not count toward that tally.

Togo, a nation of around 8 million people, has been ruled by same family for 57 years, initially by Eyadema Gnassingbé and subsequently by his son. Faure Gnassingbé has been in office since 2005 after winning elections that the opposition described as a sham.

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