One person has been killed and several others injured and arrested by Togo’s security forces during demonstrations organised by members of the opposition party PNP, demanding constitutional reforms.
The demonstrations which took place in the cities of Lomé, Sokodé, and Afagnan on April 13, 2019, was originally planned for ten cities in the country but was rejected by the Minister of Territorial Administration and Local Government, Mr. Payadowa Poukpessi, citing public order concerns.
The demonstration, however, turned bloody in Bafilo, one of the towns where the marchers defied the official ban which security forces tried to enforce with a heavy hand.
“Officially one person died. Ziedhine Traoré, a PNP activist residing in the city of Bafilo, was beaten to death by soldiers,” said a statement from the PNP party.
However, according to Yark Damehame, Minister of Security and Civil Protection, the activist may have died in a stampede.
“It could be that he succumbed in the stampede. Only the results of the medical examination will be able to confirm it to us,” reacted the Minister.
There were reports of serious violence in Kpalimé and Sokodé where soldiers attacked the demonstrators, injuring many and arrested several others.
The demonstration was meant to demand the implementation of institutional and constitutional reforms by the government in line with the political agreements on the ECOWAS roadmap.
The demonstrations also called for the release of people arrested and detained as part of the protests that have been taking place since August 2017 in the country.
The MFWA condemns the use of excessive brute force by security forces to suppress demonstrations and calls for an investigation into the death of the opposition activist and for justice to be served. We also urge the opposition parties to negotiate the itinerary for their marches to ensure adequate security for marchers and avoid risking violent crackdowns.