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Togo's opposition calls for massive street protest

27 November 2014, 15:22

Lome -Togo's opposition on Thursday called for a large-scale protest on the streets of the capital to demand political reforms before next year's general election.

"We're calling on the people of Lome and nearby to come out in huge numbers tomorrow (Friday) to support the demonstration by human rights groups," said an opposition spokesman, Francis Pedro.

Pedro represents the eight-party Combat for Political Alternative in 2015 (CAP2015) alliance, which is backing Jean-Pierre Fabre, the head of the National Alliance for Change (ANC) in the vote.

Friday's planned protests come a week after police in the capital teargassed opposition supporters who defied government orders not to march on the national assembly building.

The opposition has been pushing for a change to the country's constitution, which would limit a president to two, five-year terms of office. There is currently no limit.

But two-term President Faure Gnassingbe this week ruled out any change and said that the constitution in force would be upheld. Lawmakers had previously rejected a reform bill.

Observers have been watching events closely in Togo after popular protests over the constitution toppled the leader of Burkina Faso, the country's neighbour to the north.

Lawyer Raphael Kpande-Adzare, head of the Togolese Human Rights League (LTDH), said that political reforms were "a democratic imperative", not "a favour".

Gnassingbe should make "a patriotic leap to implement the political reforms and avoid a return to the bad old days".

The president took over from his father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, who died in 2005 after 38 years in charge of the West African nation.

The opposition disputed Faure Gnassingbe's election wins in 2005 and 2010 and have long called for institutional and political changes to be made, so far without success.

The president has not yet announced his candidacy but asked directly on an official visit to Ghana on Tuesday, he did not rule out standing again.

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