Update: Government Takes Tough Stands on Opposition Demonstrations: Week-Day Marches Banned

The authorities in Togo have banned public protests and demonstrations during working days in the country in full enforcement of public order laws, the Interior Minister has announced.

The decision follows a series of demonstrations embarked on by the opposition to demand constitutional reforms including the restoration of presidential term limits.

“In view of the inconveniences that the recent demonstrations have caused to the population, we have decided that the laws on demonstration be fully implemented in the coming days. Consequently, week-day demonstrations can only be held at a fixed place, with marches and meetings permitted only on weekends”, declared Payadowa Boukpessi, Minister of Interior, flanked by Yark Damehame, Minister of Security at a press conference held in Lomé on October 10.

The demonstrations, which began across the country on August 19, 2017, have often been met with brute force by the security agencies. Five people have been confirmed dead, two of them on the first day, according to official figures. The opposition coalition however says at least ten people have been killed as a result of excessive use of force by the police and gendarmes.

Commercial activities in the big cities of Togo have also been severely affected by the demonstrations, a development that is likely to cause further disaffection on the economic front.

The MFWA wishes to emphasis the need for the government in Togo to recognize the people’s inalienable right to peaceful assembly, and to assume ultimate responsibility for the deaths of demonstrators caused by violent police intervention. Having said this, we urge the leadership of the opposition to continue to take measures to ensure that their supporters maintain discipline during demonstrations, to follow the roadmaps, safety measures and other rules of engagement agreed with the law enforcement agencies.

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