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Parliamentary Election - July 2018

The tense political climate persisted in view of the April 2015 presidential elections and the apparent determination of the President to remain in power for a third and finally a fourth term regardless of the cost. Despite undeniable improvements in the framework and external appearance of the main institutions of the system during the investigation period, there was still a façade democracy.

The donor community endorsed delayed democratic reforms, including local elections, in view of the overriding concerns for stability in West Africa, because of the growing threat of Islamists in neighboring countries, as well as the role of the Togo as a contributor of the troops. However, discontent between the Togolese security forces and the ruling party barons was still visible. The opposition tried in vain to overcome its gap between its moderate and radical wing. An alliance of opposition parties and civic groups peacefully opposed the regime through frequent protests, often violently suppressed, with little effect.

For Togo’s 51-year-old president Faure Gnassingbe, an opposition coalition heaped pressure on him to resign since August 2017 when tens of thousands of people in half a dozen cities around the country came out to call for an end to the Gnassingbe family rule. The country’s 14-party opposition coalition called for him to step down via nearly weekly protests that started with violence in August. Togolese security forces killed at least 16 protesters while hundreds were injured, arrested and jailed. Internet connection was cut and intermittently.

Togolese opposition parties began the latest round of anti-Gnassingbe protests which spanned a two-day period – October 4 – October 5, 2017. The coalition accuses the government of not responding favourably to their requests after the last series of protests. An advertisement of the march listed three points of convergence, Atikoume/ Akossombo, Etablissement CCP and Be-Gakpoto. Its last political move was a national shutdown call that was largely observed in the capital, Lome and other parts of the country.

The main request of the coalition is for incumbent Faure Gnassingbe to leave power after 12 years in charge. His current mandate secured in 2015 runs till 2020. The opposition is calling for an immediate end to the Gnassingbe dynasty which has ruled for 50 years.

The first local elections were anticipated for July 2018, 31 years after the last held in 1987. This was in any case what emerged from the unprecedented meeting in which took part all the political parties, of the opposition as power, the representatives of the civil society and the central and local administration but also the technical and financial partners of Togo and the delegates of other countries which have a proven experience in the field of decentralization. According to the former prime minister who happens to be the chairman of the presidium of this workshop, Arthème Kwesi Séléagodji Ahoomey-Zunu, this workshop allowed the Togolese to agree on topics that have been debated for more than twenty years.

July 2018 came and past without signs of elections.

he Togolese opposition called on the population to boycott the electoral census, which was scheduled to start on 01 October 2018 in preparation for legislative and local elections. The opposition termed the elections as fraudulent and a charade. They demand that the Independent National Electoral Commission (Céni) be reconstituted, following the agreement reached on 23 September 2018. Under this agreement, the opposition would have eight seats, as would the ruling party, in the committee.

The coalition of 14 opposition parties wants the re-introduction of a two-term limit for presidents, applied retroactively, which would prevent president Faure Gnassingbe from standing for re-election in 2020. The government has agreed to the two-term limit but not the retroactive element, which would allow the president to stand at polls in 2020 and 2025.

Gabon, which had been going through a serious political crisis for over a year, was set to hold local elections and a referendum in December.

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