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Togo’s Opposition Calls for Mass Protest Friday

FILE - President of Togo Faure Gnassingbe (L) casts his ballot inside a school in Lome, Jul. 25, 2013.

A Togolese opposition official has said he does not wish for a Burkina Faso-style popular uprising in Togo.

But Codjo Delava, Secretary General of the main opposition National Alliance for Change (ANC) party, said if President Faure Gnassingbe continues to refuse to implement political reforms that will lead to a presidential term limit and free and fair elections, then a Burkina Faso-style popular uprising might happen.

“I’m not hoping it can happen. But there is a chance it can happen. This is not our hope, but if [President] Faure Gnassingbe continues to refuse to implement political reforms so that elections can be free and fair, so that presidential mandate can limited, maybe it will happen,” Delava said.

This comes as a coalition of opposition parties and civil society groups in Togo have called for a mass protest Friday (Nov. 28) to demand reforms ahead of next year’s general election.

Delava said the protesters want a return to the 1992 constitution, which called for a two presidential term limit but which was removed by President Gnassingbe’s father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema.

“The demonstration is organized by human rights activist organizations in Togo. They are calling for political reforms so that elections in Togo can be free and fair because they said it’s human rights to have free and fair elections so that people can choose their leaders free and fairly,” he said.

Delava said following the 2005 disputed election, President Gnassingbe and the opposition reached an agreement which called for institutional and political changes to facilitate free and fair election in Togo.

But he said President Gnassingbe has failed to implement the reforms stipulated in that agreement.

“There are some political reforms scheduled on behalf of a political agreement since the year 2006. This agreement was signed by all political parties. Up to now, as there is another presidential election ahead shortly, Togolese people want those reforms to be implemented so that they can have [a] free and fair election,” Delava said.

President Gnassingbe has yet to announce his candidacy, but he has said he will uphold the current constitution, which does not have a term limit.

Delava said Togolese want a two-round presidential election process that declares a winner when a candidate gets over 50 percent and a runoff if no candidate wins a majority.

“This is an election formula which the Togolese people chose in the year 1992 in a referendum for a new constitution. But General Gnassingbe Eyadema, Faure Gnassingbe’s father changed the whole thing. He changed the limitation of mandate and he changed the election rules,” Delava said.

He said Togolese want a return to the 1992 constitution because elections in Togo have never been fair. He also said Togo is the only country in West Africa where there is no presidential term limit.

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