Togo Police Fire Teargas at Protesters

Togo Police Fire Teargas  at ProtestersTogo Police Fire Teargas  at Protesters

Police in Togo’s capital Lome on Friday fired teargas at protesters defying a government ban on marching to the country’s parliament, an AFP reporter said.

The police resorted to the gas to push back thousands of demonstrators, most of them from the main opposition, as they approached to within 400 meters of the National Assembly.

The government of President Faure Gnassingbe had previously ordered the marchers away from the parliament building and told all schools in the capital to close in case of civil unrest.

The stand-off led to tensions with the protesters, some of whom brandished banners proclaiming “Two terms is enough!”, “50 years in power. That’s enough!” and “We want institutional and constitutional reforms”.

Gnassingbe has not yet announced whether he will stand for re-election but is widely expected to seek a third term of office -- the current maximum allowed by the constitution.

He came to power in 2005 after the death of his father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, who governed Togo with an iron fist for 38 years.

Togo’s opposition grouping, backed by civil society groups, has long been pushing for political reform to limit a president to a maximum two five-year terms of office.