Togo’s capital Lomé relatively locked down as mass protests continues

WEST AFRICA––The capital of the West Africa nation of Togo is at a standstill as opposition protesters clash with government forces.

Several areas of Lomé remained impassable on Friday after security forces fired tear gas against anti-government demonstrators calling on the president to step down for autocratic tendencies. In an area known as Be, protesters clashed with police throughout the night according to local residents.  Youth groups also built barricades with rocks and burnt tires to block traffic.

Throughout the capital, shops on the main roads and in working-class districts of the coastal city were on the lockdown. Meanwhile, heavy police presence is said to be seen at all main intersections, according to witnesses. “We want him to leave. We’ll stay here until he goes. We’re tired,” said one of the protesters, referring to President Faure Gnassingbe.

Close to a million people protest in Togo, calling on the president to step down

Opposition supporters took to the streets on Wednesday and Thursday in huge numbers to call for political reforms, including a limit on the number of terms the president can serve.

Incumbent leader Faure Gnassingbe has been president since his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, died in 2005 after nearly 40 years in power. Faure, then defense minister succeeded his father immediate through the support of the military.  That led to violent protests in which hundreds were killed. In addition, Faure Gnassingbe’s election victories in 2010 and 2015 were debated by the opposition.

Globe Afrique has learned this might be the end of Faure Gnassingbe’s regime in office, given the seriousness of the protesters, some of whom planned to continue until he resigns.

An unconfirmed sources say the leaders of military and other security forces in the country are having high level confidence building discussions regarding the protest with the aim of intervention should the situation get out of hand.

A top Togolese intelligence source informed Globe Afrique, through social media, that it was in the best interest of the president to negotiate and listen to the wishes of the citizens, or retire early then to be forced out.

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Dave Okonjie

Dave Okonjie is a public affairs analyst, researcher and senior issues correspondent.
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