Hunger strike in Togo over opposition arrests

2018-09-25 11:18
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A former lawmaker in Togo was on Monday on hunger strike to call for the release of opposition supporters who were arrested during anti-government demonstrations.

Nicodeme Ayao Habia, head of the Democrats party, began his protest six days ago in front of Ghana's embassy in the Togolese capital, Lome.

"I am on hunger strike to demand the release of all people who were arrested during protests by the opposition coalition who are still languishing in prison," he told AFP.

"I won't move from here as long as these people are in prison," he said, holding a small sign with photos of three of those detained.

"This morning, police tried to move me along but I refused as I am within my rights. They even tried to rough me up."

Habia held a two-day hunger strike previously this month in front of the US Embassy in Lome.

Some 44 people who were arrested during opposition protests against President Faure Gnassingbe and his government remain in prison, according to the coalition.

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The oppositions wants the re-introduction of a two-term limit for presidents, applied retroactively, which would prevent Gnassingbe from standing for re-election in 2020.

The government has agreed to the two-term limit but not the retroactive element, which would allow the president to stand at polls in 2020 and 2025.

He has already been in power since the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, in 2005. The army general seized power of the West African state in 1967.

As well as the release of opposition detainees, Habia said he also wanted the government to stick to the roadmap set out by leaders of the West African bloc Ecowas.

"The regime must absolutely respect the recommendations contained in the Ecowas roadmap," he added.

On Sunday, the government and opposition finally agreed common ground in the composition of the country's independent national electoral commission (CENI).

Lack of agreement about the make-up of the body had delayed an announcement of the date of local and parliamentary elections.

Local polls and a referendum on the proposed constitutional reforms will now take place on December 16, with parliamentary elections four days later.

Read more on:    togo  |  west africa

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