The parliament of Togo adopts contentious constitutional amendments.


Togo’s lawmakers adopted amendments to the constitution on Friday that address term limits for presidents and the manner in which they are chosen. Civil society organizations and opposition politicians have criticized these revisions as a constitutional coup.
The revisions were approved by parliament in a vote in March, but in response to strong opposition, more consultations, a second parliamentary vote, and a postponement of the legislative elections from April 20 to April 29 were announced.

Opponents of the measures worry that they would permit President Faure Gnassingbe’s 19-year rule and his family’s hold on power to be extended.

In 1967, a coup led by his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, took control of the nation located on the coast of West Africa.

The amendments that limit the number of presidential terms to one and extend tenure from five to six years were unanimously accepted by parliamentarians in the second vote.

The president will be chosen by members of parliament rather than by universal suffrage under the revised charter, which establishes a parliamentary form of government.

Additionally, it ignores the time that Gnassingbe has already served in government, which may allow him to hold onto office until 2031 if he is re-elected in 2025—a situation that seems quite possible given that his party dominates the legislature.

A coalition of 17 civil society organizations stated in a statement this week that the modifications amount to a “project to… confiscate power by a regime that is systematically opposed to any form of democratic change.”

They urged Ecowas, the principal political and economic group in West Africa, to oppose the modifications.

In recent times, a number of African nations, such as the Central African Republic, Rwanda, Congo Republic, Ivory Coast, and Guinea, have enacted constitutional and other legal modifications that permit their presidents to serve longer terms.

In the last three years, there have also been eight military takeovers in the West and Central African region.

Just as they were under his father’s lengthy rule, Gnassingbe’s administration has often used violent police crackdowns on political demonstrations.

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