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Faure Gnassingbe

Internet shut down, social media blockage in Togo enter 2nd week as protest rages

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Indications emerged Sunday evening showing that nationwide internet shutdown and social media blockade have entered second week in Togo as opposition leaders weekend, rejected planned discussion of veiled political change and constitutional reform by the parliament this week.

Internet services were on Tuesday last week freezed as a way of containing uprising by youths over their rejection of Gnassingbe dynasty and demand for constitutional review.

Mobile internet services remained disrupted as at Sunday evening, according to reports from Lome, but core online addicts have migrated to Ghanaian border to pick SIM cards from Ghanaian networks to deepen the struggle after all.

It would be recalled that current president, Faure Gnassingbe took over as leader in 2005 after the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had come to power in 1967 after a military coup.

The opposition wants a return to the provision for a maximum of two, five-year presidential terms as well as the introduction of a two-round voting system.

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets last week calling for presidential term limits and denouncing President Faure Gnassingbe and his family’s half-century in power.

Before the growing anti-government riots, Togo’s opposition has long called for constitutional reform and in an apparent concession; the government has proposed a new bill to parliament, which has been recalled for Tuesday.

Already, Eric Dupuy, spokesman for the CAP 2015 opposition grouping, described the bill as a “delaying tactic”.

Continuing, he said “We don’t expect anything from it. We still don’t know the details of the bill. At this stage it’s difficult to talk about it”.

Additional details show that Faure Gnassingbe, who currently holds the rotating presidency of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, has won three elections in 2005, 2010 and 2015.

Though the protests had been largely peaceful, observers say the shutdown of internet and social media technically weakened protesters even as there were reports that police fired teargas at protesters who had mounted barricades in some areas of the capital Lome and more than 80 people were arrested.

Dupuy said Sunday human rights groups had told them all of those detained had been released overnight, but there was no official confirmation from the authorities.

On tomorrow’s emergency seating, Togo’s civil service minister Gilbert Barawa said on Friday it was unclear whether lawmakers, who are not officially due back until October, will have time to discuss the reform bill at extraordinary seating.


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