Togolese Opposition Renews Protest Calls Against Constitutional Changes Extending President’s Rule

Following the approval of constitutional amendments by Togo’s lawmakers, which could potentially extend President Faure Gnassingbe’s rule, opposition parties and civil society groups in Togo have reignited their calls for widespread protests.

The Dynamique pour la Majorité du Peuple (DMP) opposition coalition, along with other signatories, condemned the changes as a political maneuver aimed at perpetuating Gnassingbe’s hold on power. They labeled the parliamentary approval as a “coup d’etat,” citing the lack of public disclosure of the text and called for mass mobilization to reject the alterations.

The U.S. State Department’s Africa Bureau expressed deep concern over the lack of transparency in the approval process and urged the Togolese government to facilitate open debate and respect the right to peaceful assembly.

The amendments, passed unanimously by lawmakers, alter presidential term limits and the method of presidential election. Under the revised charter, the president will no longer be elected through universal suffrage but by members of parliament. Additionally, a parliamentary system of government is introduced, with shortened presidential terms set at four years, with a two-term limit.

Critically, the amendments do not account for time already served in office, potentially allowing Gnassingbe to remain in power until 2033 if re-elected in 2025, considering his party’s control over the Togolese parliament.

The move mirrors trends seen in other African countries, including the Central African Republic, Rwanda, Congo Republic, Ivory Coast, and Guinea, where constitutional changes have enabled presidents to extend their tenures.

Togo has a history of political unrest, characterized by violent police crackdowns on protests, particularly under Gnassingbe’s rule, which was controversially re-elected in 2020 amidst disputes from the opposition.

Moreover, the new constitution introduces the role of president of the council of ministers, granting extensive authority over government affairs, further consolidating power within the executive branch.

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