Togo: Campaigns begin for upcoming legislative and regional elections

Togo: Campaigns begin for upcoming legislative and regional elections

Electoral campaigns for the legislative and regional polls have begun in Togo. Originally scheduled to take place on April 20, campaigning started on Saturday April 13 and will last for two weeks before the vote on April 29.

Although the upcoming polls will be the first regional elections in the country’s history, it is the legislative elections that is attracting the most attention since it will be key to who becomes the country’s next leader.

This comes especially since the surprise adoption of a new constitution by the country’s MPs on March 25.

Following the vote by MPs on the new fundamental law, which shifts the country from a presidential to a parliamentary system, Togo’s Head of State, Faure Gnassingbé, attempted to appease the population by delaying the promulgation of the text and requesting a second reading in the National Assembly.

He called for MPs to hold broad consultations with traditional and regional leaders across the country. Those consultations started last Monday April 15.

Opposition parties have vowed protests and resistance to the planned change of the constitution, but their initial three-day planned protests did not hold after they were banned by the government.

The interior and security ministries said the protests planned for Thursday (Apr. 11) would seriously disturb public order. 

A spokesman for the opposition behind the planned protest said the coalition was considering whether to move forward with the rallies anyway.

“Whenever they’re in a panic, they’re ready to use any kind of tricks against the opposition,” spokesman Eric Dupuy told The Associated Press. “It doesn’t move us.”

The government last week arrested nine opposition activists for engaging in political activities at a market. All nine were released on Tuesday (Apr. 9) evening. 

Tension is rising in the west African nation of eight million people over the new constitution that effectively scraps presidential elections and introduces more changes that aim to shift the country to a parliamentary system of government. 

Many fear the changes amongst other things may be an avenue for President Faure Gnassingbé to extend his grip on power especially after his current mandate expires in 2025. 

The Gnassingbé family has ruled Togo since 1967.

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