At least four people were shot dead on Wednesday in clashes between protesters and security forces in Togo’s two largest cities after soldiers and police launched teargas to prevent the latest anti-government protest.
Opposition parties had refused to cancel plans for demonstrations on Wednesday and Thursday, despite a government ban on weekday protests on security grounds. The government said three people were shot dead in second city Sokode while one was killed and several wounded by gunfire in capital Lome.
“Security forces aren’t the only ones in possession of weapons so it’s difficult to say who fired,” security minister Colonel Yark Damehame told reporters.
Around 60 people were detained.
This week’s planned protests are the latest against President Faure Gnassingbe, who has been in power since 2005 and whose family has ruled the West African nation since 1968.
Earlier Wednesday, streets in Lome were blocked and most shops were shut in the commercial area of Deckon, according to AFP reporters in the city.
Since the first protests on August 18, 12 people have been killed, most of them teenagers. Amnesty International said at least 28 people out of more than 100 arrested have been convicted in connection with the protests.
Togo’s opposition has repeatedly called for a limit of two, five-year terms for the president and the resignation of Gnassingbe. A referendum is to be held in the coming months on a government bill to change the constitution but the opposition has complained that the new measures are not retroactive.
That means President Gnassingbe, who won elections in 2005, 2010 and 2015, could still contest the next votes in 2020 and 2025, keeping him in power until 2030. Read more here.