General News of Friday, 9 March 2018
Togo’s opposition group have agreed to suspend a planned demonstration against President Faure Gnassingbe following a meeting with President Nana Akufo-Addo.
The groups, who are fighting to end Mr Gnassingbé’s rule in Togo, said on Friday that they were suspending the upcoming protests at the request of Ghana, which is mediating in the crisis.
“The facilitator, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, received a delegation from the (opposition) coalition on Wednesday in Accra and asked us to give him a week in order to conduct talks with the government. We accepted,” coalition spokesman Eric Dupuy said.
“The current regime has never honoured its commitments. If nothing emerges from these talks, we will return to the street, because we will not accept the government driving the electoral process unilaterally.”
A new round of protests had been due to take place next week on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
The 14 opposition parties met President Nana Addo at the Flag Staff House on Wednesday.
Since August, hundreds of thousands of Togolese have taken part in demonstrations to demand that Gnassingbe step down.
He has been in office since 2005 after taking over from his father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, who himself ruled Togo for 38 years after seizing power in a coup in 1967.
The opposition wants a return to Togo’s 1992 constitution that set a two-term limit for presidents, which would be applied retroactively to prevent Gnassingbe standing in 2020 and 2025.
The government has proposed a two-term limit but without the retroactive element.
Gnassingbe is serving his third term, after returning as president in 2010 and 2015 in elections that the opposition say were marred by fraud and repression.
Since February 19, there have been two rounds of Ghanaian-brokered talks on the crisis, but they have since been adjourned.
The 14-party opposition alliance is angered by what it says is the government’s failure to honour a commitment about preparations for parliamentary elections, which are due to be held at some point this year.
Their criticism is directed at the choice of officials appointed to local commissions to oversee the vote.
Akufo-Addo promised to consult separately with both the opposition and Gnassingbe’s Union for the Republic (UNIR) party in the Ghanaian capital Accra before talks resume in Lome.
He had earlier visited Togo where he held a closed-door meeting with Faure Gnassingbe and leaders of the main opposition parties.