Opposition leader urges Togo president not to stand again

*Togolese president, Mr. Faure Gnassingbe

Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe was on Tuesday urged not to seek re-election in 2020 to guarantee his place in history as the man who ushered in peaceful political change.

Gnassingbe, who has been in power since the death of his father in 2005, has been the target of a wave of protests since late August calling on him to quit.

Three more opposition marches are scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Opposition stalwart Gilchrist Olympio said Gnassingbe and his government should accept a return to the 1992 constitution, which sets a 10-year limit for presidents.

“Faure Gnassingbe must then accept the principle of not running in the presidential elections of 2020, to leave the field clear for democratic consultation,” he told reporters.

“The chance is being offered… to go down in history by creating the conditions for the peaceful change of power,” he added.

Olympio also called on the opposition to be united and plot a way forward, as well as announcing his retirement from politics.

The 80-year-old’s father Sylvanus, was Togo’s first president after independence from French colonial rule in 1960.

He was killed in a military coup in 1963 in which President Gnassingbe’s father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, took part.

Gilchrist opposed the general for years after he seized power in 1967 but in May 2010 signed an agreement that brought his UFC party into government.

A coalition of 14 opposition parties wants the re-introduction of a two-term limit for presidents plus a two-round voting system at elections.

At least 16 people have been killed in a series of protests, which have seen hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets across Togo.

The opposition has rejected a government proposal for two-term limits because it is not retroactive, which potentially means Gnassingbe could stand at the 2020 and 2025 elections.

Mediators such as Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo and Guinea’s Alpha Conde are trying to open up talks between the two sides.



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