Togo’s President Signs a Law Expected to Extend his Decades-Long Rule

Togo’s President Signs a Law Expected to Extend his Decades-Long Rule

Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe’s office announced late Monday that he has signed a contentious new constitution abolishing presidential elections. Opponents argue that the move will allow him to extend his family’s six-decade rule.

The new legislation gives parliament the authority to choose the president, eliminating the need for direct elections. On Saturday, the election commission announced that Gnassingbe’s ruling party won the majority of seats in the West African nation’s parliament.
Crackdown on Civic Freedoms

Civic and media freedoms were severely restricted prior to the vote. The government prohibited protests against the proposed new constitution and arrested opposition leaders. The electoral commission prohibited the Catholic Church from deploying election observers.

According to preliminary results, the ruling Union for the Republic (UNIR) party won 108 out of 113 parliamentary seats and 137 out of 179 in the Senate.

The new constitution also extends presidential terms from five to six years and establishes a single-term limit. However, Gnassingbe’s nearly 20-year tenure in office would not count towards that total.

The West African country has been ruled by the same family for 57 years, first by Eyadema Gnassingbe and later by his son. Faure Gnassingbe took office following elections that the opposition called a sham.

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