An offocial of a coalition of opposition parties and civil society groups, known as “Let’s Save Togo,” says the group will not enter into dialogue with the government unless it is certain that such talks will result in a meaningful outcome.
This comes after Togo's new Prime Minister Ahoomey-Zunu Seleagodjo invited the opposition for talks on resolving the country’s social, political problems.
It also follows days of clashes this week between protesters and security forces after the government banned demonstrations in commercial areas of the capital, Lome.
Bode Tchakoura, spokesman for the coalition of opposition parties said the group has decided to engage in civil disobedience in parts of the capital.
“We had a news conference this afternoon, and we have decided that since our government is not willing to respect our constitution, our decision is to engage in civil disobedience with our government until further notice,” he said.
But Tchakoura said the opposition is open to dialogue if the government would satisfy their demands.
“We make it very clear that if the coalition is not satisfied that the government is willing to engage in very serious dialogue to solve all the problems with the opposition before the election, then we will not take part in any type of dialogue with the government,” Tchakoura said.
He rejects criticism by some who say the protesters are a small group of Togolese who are only out to cause problems. Tchakoura blamed such criticism on government propaganda.
“The government of Togo is always the same. They are not telling the truth. We have to make it very clear that the majority of Togolese are fed up with the government. But they don’t want to tell the truth,” Tchakoura said.
Some of the protesters want a delay in the coming October parliamentary elections, while others want changes to the country’s electoral law, which they argued was passed without their input.
Tchakoura said his coalition will not take part if the election if the government does not meet its demands, including changes to the electoral code.
“We are not willing to go to any election now unless the conditions for a clear, transparent election are guaranteed. And that is our position because we want to avoid all the problems we’ve had in the past,” he said.