AFRICA/TOGO - Tensions on election day: the opposition boycotted the vote

Thursday, 20 December 2018


Lome (Agenzia Fides) - Tensions and protests on the streets and in the most important urban areas of Lomè, Sokode, Bafilo, Mango and Kpalime, ahead of today's legislative elections on 20 December (see Fides 30/11/2018). Men armed with machine guns guard the streets, while security measures have been strengthened. The Association of Muslim Leaders of Togo, Archbishop Emeritus of Lomé, Mgr. Philippe Fanoko Kpodzro, and other religious leaders have called for the postponement of the vote. "Dear son, whom I love, let me tell you that today you have the grace to preside over the destinies of the Togolese people. I want to humbly ask you in the name of God, in all humility to use for the reforms of all your prerogatives to propose a new realistic and consensual calendar for the legislative elections": said Mgr. Fanoko Kpodzro to the President of Togo, Faure Gnassingbe, while the socio-political crisis reached critical points. In February 2018 Mgr. Fanoko had voted in favor of rehabilitating the 1992 Constitution that would have allowed the president to "honor his current mandate" and had asked him not to run again in 2020.
The demonstrations of 8 and 10 December (see Fides, 10/12/2018) exacerbated the protest movement organized since August 2017 by the opposition against the Gnassingbé regime, in power since 2005. Through demonstrations held simultaneously in different cities, the movement asked to put the limit of two presidential terms, to prevent the current president from running a fourth term in 2020.
The Togolese opposition has not presented any candidate for the legislative elections and has called for a boycott.
Among other irregularities, he denounced the violation of the provisions of the road map of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), published in July after extensive consultations. According to this road map, the Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni) was to be composed of members of the ruling party and the opposition, a provision that has never been respected. Tension among voters has been amplified by the release of a series of messages on the web and on social media that encourage people not to vote. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 20/12/2018)