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Limit presidential terms to two says UN envoy
September 17, 2017, 4:47 pm

Togo must go the way of other West African nations and swiftly limit presidential terms to two if it wants to prevent protests escalating into a political crisis, the United Nations envoy to the region said last week.

“It has become unavoidable for Togo to join the rest of West Africa in having term limitations,” U.N. Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel Mohamed Ibn Chambas said in a media interview. Since Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh was forced out after losing an election last December, all West African countries except Togo have accepted two-term limits on presidential office.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in the past weeks to demand that President Faure Gnassingbe step aside. The president, who has been in power since his father’s death in 2005, has ordered stern police action against what is seen as the most serious challenge to his family’s 50-year dynasty.

Police have responded with tear gas and, internet and phone calls have been restricted. While protests appear to have died down, the opposition has said it would continue protesting until the president steps down.

“We are in a region where the security challenges are real and menacing and so we don’t want to see any deep political crisis,” said the UN envoy. A move by President Gnassingbe’s government to propose a draft bill to reform the constitution and reintroduce a two-term limit was welcome. The opposition has rejected it because it says it would enable the president to stay in power until 2030.

The president’s father Gnassingbe Eyadema seized power in a 1967 coup and ruled for 38 years before his death. He brought in a two-term limit in 1992, in response to protests, but scrapped it a decade later when he decided he wanted to run again.

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