The government of Togo releases political prisoners and announces a national dialogue

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This article is part of the African Overview of Notas – Periodismo Popular. An attempt to fill the information vacuum that the hegemonic mass media leaves and a committment to strengthen the South-South information circulation.  Today we bring news on Togo.

By: Santiago Mayor / Source: Notas Periodismo Popular / The Dawn News / December 12, 2017

The Togolese authorities announced over the weekend the liberation of two Muslim religious leaders from the opposition who were detained in the context of the protests against the Government of the President Faure Gnassingbe.

Alpha Alhassane is a one of the liberated and who leads the Muslim community of the city of Sokodé, the second in importance after the capital, Lomé. He is also a counselor of Tikpi Atchadam, president of the Pan African National Party, the most important party of the opposition.

Simultaneous to this decision, the minister of Public Service, Gilbert Bawara, sustained that the conditions are given for the beginning of a dialogue with the opposing parties in order to find a negotiated solution to the conflict.

The main demands of the coalition which gathers 14 political organizations are:

  • the limitation to the presidential term (as it was established by the 1992 Constitution);
  • the change in the electoral code to establish once again the two rows plurality voting -currently the candidate who gets the simple majority wins-;
  • and the possibility to vote abroad.

To achieve this, and despite the announcements of the government, manifestations are being realized constantly since August while being strongly repressed (there are over 20 fatalities until now). This week’s protests have been called for December 13 and 16.

The current president has been in office since 2005 when, after the death of his father, he launched a coup d’etat that left over 500 fatalities. After that he triumphed in the 2010 and 2015 elections for which his current term shall end in 2020.

Togo achieved its independence from France in 1960. Seven years later a coup d’etat leaded by Gnassingbé Eyadéma arrived to the government. Eyadéma lead the country until 2005 when he passed away after a heart attack. However, in 1992 a multiparty system which limited the presidential term to 2 terms of 5 five years each was installed. This was modified in 2002 to guarantee a new election of the current chief of State. Thousands of Togolese people mobilized these days against this reform.

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