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Veteran opposition leader urged Togo’s president not to seek re-election

Gilchrist Olympio, left, and President Faure-Gnassingbe, right.

ACCRA, GHANA–  Togo’s veteran opposition leader on Tuesday this week called on Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe not to seek re-election in 2020 to guarantee his place in history as the man who ushered in peaceful political change.

Gnassingbe, who has been in power since the death of his father in 2005, has been the target of a wave of protests since late August, calling on him to quit.

Opposition stalwart Gilchrist Olympio said Gnassingbe and his government must honor a return to the 1992 constitution, which sets a 10-year limit for presidents.

“Faure Gnassingbe must then accept the principle of not running in the presidential elections of 2020, to leave the field clear for democratic consultation,” he told reporters.

“The chance is being offered… to go down in history by creating the conditions for the peaceful change of power,” he added.

While announcing his retirement from politics, Olympio also called on the opposition to be united and plot a way forward.

The 80-year-old’s veteran politician father Sylvanus Olympio, was Togo’s first president after independence from French colonial rule in 1960.

He was assassinated in a military coup in 1963 that brought President Gnassingbe’s father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, to power.

Gilchrist opposed Faure’s father, General Eyedema for years since 1967 but in May 2010 both men signed an agreement that brought his UFC party into government.

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Michael Harrington

Michael Harrington is a researcher and senior contributing reporter with Globe Afrique Media.

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