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Togo’s Opposition, Activists Call For Protests to Halt President From Signing Off on a New Constitution

Opposition figures and activists in Togo are calling for protests to stop President Faure Gnassingbe from signing off on a new constitution that eliminates future presidential elections and potentially extends Gnassingbe’s rule until 2031.

The new text passed on Tuesday by Togo’s Parliament will now have the president selected from Parliament, and “without debate” by lawmakers “for a single six-year term” as part of a shift from a Presidential to a Parliamentary System.

Read Also: Togo Adopts New Constitution, Moving Country From Presidential to Parliamentary System

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Despite claims from some legal experts that the constitution introduces a one-term limit and empowers a figure akin to a prime minister, opposition groups argue that it primarily serves to consolidate Gnassingbe’s power.

“We know that the struggle will be long and hard, but together with the Togolese people, we will do everything we can to prevent this constitutional coup d’état. We’re calling on the population to reject this, to oppose it massively,” Eric Dupuy, a spokesman for the opposition National Alliance for Change party told the AP.

Togo’s Catholic bishops have also criticised the move, saying that the country’s National Assembly exceeded its mandate by adopting the new constitution and urging Gnassingbe to postpone its approval.

“The Assembly has no power to revise a constitution. The power to revise the constitution is vested in it during its term of office,” Zeus Ajavon, a lecturer in Constitutional Law at the University of Lome also told the AP.

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Togo’s recent history has been dominated by the Gnassingbe clan which has ruled since 1967. Faure Gnassingbe, who succeeded his father in 2005 amid contested elections, faces mounting opposition to his continued grip on power.

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