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Togo Opposition Vows More Protests Despite Leader’s Arrest

  • James Butty

A coalition of opposition parties and civil society groups, known as “Let’s Save Togo,” says it will continue to hold protests against what it calls the Togolese government’s disregard for the rule of law.

The groups have been protesting changes to the country’s electoral law, which they say the government made without consulting with the opposition.

Meanwhile, authorities Tuesday briefly detained former prime minister and leading opposition figure Agbeyome Kodjo in connection with the protests.

Bode Tchakoura, spokesman for the coalition of opposition parties said Kodjo’s arrest is the latest in connection with the protests.

“Mr. Kodjo was told by the gendarmerie that he’s one those leaders who has signed the letter asking for the demonstration because, according to the gendarmerie, there were damages and the responsibility for those damages rests with the leaders of the demonstration,” he said.

But spokesman Tchakoura said Kodjo should not have been arrested in the first place.

“Mr. Kodjo, as a former prime minister, and also former president of the National Assembly of Togo, should never have been arrested because he’s protected by immunity,” Tchakoura said.

He said the protests will continue until the government reverses the changes it made to the country’s electoral laws, without first consulting with the opposition.

“We are protesting on the overall political atmosphere which is not favorable for election because, before it was very clear to the Togolese government to operate some changes, some amendments to the electoral code together with the opposition parties, and those have not been operated by the Togolese government and they are planning now to organize [a] new election without having operated those changes,” he said.

Tchakoura also said the government’s decision to make changes to the country’s election laws, without the consent of the opposition, contravenes a protocol of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

“There is a protocol of the ECOWAS member countries that states clearly that, six months before elections in any member country, it is not allowed for any country to make changes to the electoral laws without the consent of the opposition parties,” he said.

He said the opposition will not participate in the parliamentary elections slated for later this year unless the government withdraws the changes it unilaterally made to the electoral law.

Togo’s security minister, Col. Gnama Latta, was quoted as saying that 22 policemen were injured when protesters hurled projectiles at them and erected barricades.

But, Tchakoura said the opposition demonstrations have been peaceful.

“This is not the first that we have organized a demonstration, and there had been no damages during our demonstration. And, we have evidence that there are some people who have been introduced in our demonstration to cause such damages that the government is blaming on us. We are not responsible for such damages,” he said.

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