Togo’s Opposition coalition is going ahead with day 2 of anti-government protests despite violent clashes that resulted in severe injuries to protesters on Wednesday, October 18.
Armed police were deployed yesterday to known starting points of the protests but that did not stop people coming out to the streets for the first day of a two-day protest called by the opposition last week.
The government officially banned weekday protests as it put in, in the interest of public security, but the protesters defied the order.
In the capital, Lome, there were clashes between security forces and protesters leading to the firing of tear gas and live bullets. Activists say three people were hit by bullets – among them an 11-year-old boy.
There was a social shutdown of sort as shops closed in most parts of the country and most roads were deserted. There were several road blocks as people set fires in the middle major roads.
Wednesday’s clashes came on the back of violent scenes in the northern town of Sokode where state agents reportedly arrested an Imam who is closely allied to an opposition chief, Tikpi Atchadam.
Imam Alpha Alhassane’s arrest led to widespread clashes led to burning of public and private facilities in towns across the country. The coalition confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that three people had been killed. Reports indicated that the tension spread to other cities including Tchamba, Bafilo, Kpalimé, Agoényne and the capital Lome.
The opposition are calling for incumbent Faure Gnassingbe to immediately step down as president. They say they want an end to a family dynasty that has ruled the West African nation for the last fifty years.
Faure’s father Eyadema ruled for 38 years till his death in 2005. Faure took over and has been in charge for the last twelve years. His current mandate runs till 2020 when he is eligible to run for another term because there are no term limits.
Key among the opposition demands are a restoration of two term limits and two-round voting system. They also are calling for reforms of the constitutional court. A move by government to reinstate term limits has stalled due to an opposition boycott.