Togo lifts ban on weekday protests

Togolese police disperse protesters during a past demonstration.
Togolese police disperse protesters during a past demonstration.

The Togolese government has lifted a ban on weekday protests after the country witnessed a series of demonstrations defying the order.

The ban was imposed on October 10 on security grounds following a spate of protests that was thousands line up in streets to call for the removal of President Faure Gnassingbe.

Violent clashes were witnessed in the demonstrations organized by a coalition of opposition parties that are demanding that Gnassingbe steps down and a limit on presidential mandates introduced.

They are calling for two five-year terms for presidents in the country.

“The measure banning marches during the week has been lifted,” AFP reports Togo’s security minister Colonel Yark Damehame to say, adding that security forces were at marches purely as “observers”.

The country’s situation has prompted calls from West African regional bloc ECOWAS to call for dialogue to resolve the issues.

Faure Gnassingbe has been in power since 2005, taking over after the death of his father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled Togo for 38 years.

In his first comments on the unrest, the president told his ruling Union for the Republic party last weekend that he was “optimistic” about riding out the protests.

A coalition of independent human rights groups on Saturday said they had recorded 14 deaths between the first protests on August 19 and October 31, nine of whom were shot dead.  Hundreds were injured in the clashes.