CONTENT PREVIEW
Country Risk

Opposition failure to agree on constitutional reforms likely to drive further anti-government protests in Togo’s major cities

31 October 2017

Key Points

  • Anti-government protests, which have challenged the ruling Republican Union (Union Républicaine: UNIR) government’s 50-year reign in recent months, are likely gain in intensity and scope in Togo’s major cities in an attempt to force the government to agree on a timeline for the reforms, including a retroactive application of term limits.
  • Protests planned for November and December in Lomé and Sokodé are highly likely to result in violence with security forces using tear gas, water cannons, and live ammunition to disperse them. Major transport routes are likely to be disrupted, including to and from the port of Lomé, and the cargo routes along the N1 to the busy port and to the nearby border with Ghana.
  • The military’s loyalty to the ruling party is likely to change if the opposition manages to sustain the scale and intensity of the protests beyond the six-month outlook, further weakening Gnassingbé’s position and raising the likelihood of a coup.

Event

Anti-government protesters in Togo, led by the opposition Combat for Political Change (CAP2015) coalition and the Pan-African National Party (PNP), have announced new protests for 7–9 November against President Faure Gnassingbé and his family’s 50-year rule of the country.

Anti-government protesters during a march in Lomé, Togo, on 20 September. Protests are demanding an end to the 50-year Gnassingbé dynastic rule. (Matteo Fraschini Koffi/AFP/Getty Images)Anti-government protesters during a march in Lomé, Togo, on 20 September. Protests are demanding an end to the 50-year Gnassingbé dynastic rule. (Matteo Fraschini Koffi/AFP/Getty Images)

The latest protests in Togo follow demonstrations that began on 19 August when over 100,000 people took to the streets of Lomé, the capital, demanding an end to the 50-year Gnassingbé dynastic rule. The protests, dubbed ’Togo en Marche’ (’Togo on the Move’), have taken place every fortnight since despite a security clampdown and shutdown of the internet by the government. Demonstrations on 21 August saw at least two demonstrators killed in Sokodé by security forces using live ammunition to disperse the crowds; this was followed by further large-scale nationwide protests in Lomé, Bafilo, Mango, and Sokodé on 6–7 and 26–28 September. Protesters are demanding the introduction of a two-round ballot system, reforms to the electoral commission and constitutional court, voting rights for members of the Togolese diaspora, and the reinstatement of a limit of two five-year presidential terms, which was scrapped in 2005.

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