News / Africa

Togolese Opposition Demands Reform, Halt to March Election

James Butty
A member of Togo’s main opposition National Alliance for Change, or ANC, party said the opposition wants to stop the government’s preparation for March parliamentary elections amid a dispute over electoral reform.  

Thursday, security forces fired tear gas at tire-burning youths after the government banned an opposition rally. The government said the march was illegal.  

Thursday was to have been the first of three days of protests led by “Let’s Save Togo,” a coalition of opposition and civil society groups demanding electoral reforms and the removal of President Faure Gnassingbe.

ANC member Amorin Alexander said there can be no election without constitutional and institutional reforms.

“The electoral agenda has to be stopped now.  We have a lot of problems," he said. "We have the problem of the dimension of the constitution.  We are living in a system of quasi-apartheid.  In Lome, for instance, you need over 200 people to have one MP (Member of Parliament).  But, when you go outside Lome, you need 45,000 votes to have one MP.  We don’t want this to continue,"

Alexander said the opposition and civil society want a transparent electoral process.

“We want equity; one man, one vote.  Then, we want transparency.  We don’t want these people to rig the election.  These [people have been] in power for almost 50 years, same people,” Alexander said.

Butty interview with Alexander
Butty interview with Alexanderi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

The legislative elections were supposed to have been held last October, but they were postponed because of disagreement over opposition demands for electoral reform.

​Gnassingbe has announced that the local and parliamentary elections would be held by the end of March.  Alexander said it would be impossible to have elections in Togo without reform.

“We need to sit and have talks.  We have to change the whole system of election in Togo.  We have to change the institution in charge of organizing elections,” Alexander said.

He said the government’s claim that it is trying to reform the country’s electoral process is untrue.

“The president is not saying the truth.  I don’t want to be impolite by saying that he is lying.  We signed the general political agreement in 2006.  With this agreement, we are all saying that this country needs discussion to reform the constitution.  They refused to have this kind of election.  So, nothing has changed.  The president is not doing anything to improve the political system,” he said.

Gnassingbe took power in 2005 following the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled Togo for 38 years. 

Alexander said Togo is a republic and not a kingdom to be ruled by one family.                        

“The father was in power for 38 years.  When the father died, he [Gnassingbe] has been in power by the military.  And so, he’s there since 2005, almost eight years. Togo is not a kingdom.  Togo is a republic,” Alexander said.

The government said it does not want a rally to be held in the commercial district of Lome because it would disrupt commerce.

Alexander said the government has no legal right to tell protesters where to hold rallies.  In addition, he said, the rally would have a strong impact if it is held in the heart of Lome.

“What is the meaning of a demonstration if the demonstration cannot have impact on the society?  If you go to [the] seaside to make your demonstration, you are not doing anything.  But, by doing the manifestation in the center of the city, everybody will know that something is going wrong in this country,” Alexander said.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs