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July 13, 2012

Togo's Government Resigns Ahead of Elections

by James Butty, VOA News

The prime minister of Togo and his government have unexpectedly resigned just months before parliamentary elections in the tiny West African nation.

No reason was given for the late Wednesday departure of Prime Minister Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo and his Cabinet ministers.

Ebow Godwin, a freelance journalist in the Togolese capital, Lome, tells VOA the resignation could be related to the October municipal and judicial elections.

"The new electoral code of Togo says all office holders who intend to offer themselves as candidates in the next parliamentary elections should first of all resign from their positions before they can take part in the election," Godwin explained. "So the speculation here is that Prime Minister Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo has offered his resignation in order to pave the way for him to become a candidate."

The resignation came amid a series of protests by opposition parties and activist groups who accuse the government of forcing through changes to Togo's electoral law.

Butty interview with Godwin

Godwin says Togo's president may want to use the resignations to create a more inclusive interim government ahead of the elections.

"The thinking at the Togolese presidency is that President Faure Gnassingbe wants to use the opportunity to create a broad-based interim national government that will include all political persuasions, including some of his opponents from the radical opposition parties so that together they can achieve consensus on the upcoming elections."

Gnassingbe was elected president in 2005 following the death of his father, who served as president for nearly almost 40 years.