The Togolese government says opposition gatherings and protests can now only be held on weekends. The measure according to the interior minister was to avoid violence and mischief.
The announcement was made on Tuesday evening the same day that opposition parties planned the next round of protests starting next Wednesday (October 18).
The opposition said it planned to march to the offices of regional political bloc ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) in the capital, Lomé.
“Week days (Monday to Friday) are forbidden,” Payadowa Boukpessi, Minister of Territorial Administration told the press. “On the weekend, that is, on Saturdays and Sundays, they can protest,” he added.
According to him, during previous opposition protests there had been skirmishes the current ban is intended to cure. “There have been calls for civil disobedience, calls for economic sabotage, even calls for murders launched by demonstrators to authorities and their families and security services,” the minister said.
Fourteen opposition parties have been calling for protests since August this year among their key demands, two-term limits for presidential term, and the immediate resignation of President Faure Gnassinbgé, who has been in power since 2005.
The opposition says it wants an end to what it calls the Gnassingbe ruling dynasty that has ruled the country for five decades. Faure’s father Eyadema was president for 38 years till his death in 2005. Faure in this third term has chalked 12 years in charge.
The government at the height of the protests, planned to hold a referendum to undertake a constitutional reform, including this restriction of presidential terms, but the measure is not retroactive, allowing Mr. Gnassingbé to be a candidate in polls slated for 2020 and 2025.
“The struggle continues. To this end, we are already announcing that Wednesday, October 18, a great march to the offices of the ECOWAS(Economic Community of West African States) in Lomé to tell them we do not agree with the referendum it seems to encourage,” said Brigitte Adjamagbo-Johnson, coordinator of the main opposition coalition.