Togo lawmakers give Gnassingbe the option of ten more years in power

FILE PHOTO: Togo's President Faure Gnassingbe
FILE PHOTO: Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe

Togo National Assembly members approved a change in the country’s constitution that would allow longstanding President Faure Gnassingbe to stay in power potentially until 2030.

All 90 members present for Wednesday night’s vote approved the change. One assembly member was absent.

The constitutional change now caps future presidents to serving two five-year terms but does not take into account the three terms Mr. Gnassingbe has already served.  The change also allows Gnaissingbe to seek reelection in 2020 and 2025 despite outrage from opponents who seek an end to the Gnassingbe family’s rule over the country.  President Faure Gnassingbe’s father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, seized power in a 1967 coup. The younger Gnassingbe took over following General Gnassingbe Eyadema’s death in 2005.

“The National Assembly has decided to transform Togolese citizens into subjects of his majesty Gnassingbe,” said opposition member Brigitte Adjamagbo-Johnson in a statement in which she called for all opponents to unite.

Passage of the law is likely to spark protests.

Deadly clashes erupted over the proposed change in 2017 after security forces cracked down on demonstrators calling for Gnassingbe’s resignation – echoing a mass movement against his first appointment in 2005 during which at least 500 people were killed.

Lawmakers also changed the rules for their own terms. They can now hold their seats for two terms of six years each.

Before, they had a mandate of five years but with an unlimited number of terms.