Main Togo opposition coalition boycotts elections

The main opposition coalition in Togo said on Monday it will boycott December 20 general elections and call for further protests over what it alleged was a "fraudulent" poll.

"We're not going to give our blessing to this masquerade being prepared," a co-ordinator in the coalition, Brigitte Adjamagbo-Johnson, told local radio.

Togo's Constitutional Court has validated ballots for 12 parties - but not any for the 14-party opposition coalition that has staged protests in the former French colony over the past year.

Ballots for 17 independent candidates have also been approved.

Adjamagbo-Johnson vowed "we will do everything so that the elections don't happen - we never want fraudulent elections in Togo".

She said the coalition has asked the Economic Community of West African States, a regional body that has been following Togo's political crisis, to step in.

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Two new demonstrations are planned for Thursday and Saturday, Adjamagbo-Johnson said.

The opposition is demanding a shakeup of Togo's electoral authority and a reboot of election preparations.

The government's security minister, General Yark Damehame, last week warned against acts of violence seeking to upset the campaigns and voting.

"A boycott is a democratic choice. One should not seek to destroy the voting booth or the ballot box," he told the radio.

Togo's crisis has been going on since September 2017, when protesters filled the streets in the capital Lome and elsewhere to demand President Faure Gnassingbe resign.

Gnassingbe has been in power since 2005, following the death of his father who reigned for 38 years.

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