LOME, TOGO – 12-10-05 – Protesters clashed with police in LomŽ on October 5. A peaceful protest was scheduled by opposition groups, but their route was blocked by police. For months, opposition parties have been calling for the departure of president Faure Gnassingbe, whose family has been in power for over 40 years. Photo by Daniel Hayduk



Police in Togo have broken up an opposition news conference that was called to address a controversial constitutional reform.


On Monday, the parliament voted for a new constitution which changes the presidential system to a parliamentary one, but with less than a month before legislative elections, the opposition fears the change will clear the way for the long-serving President, Faure Gnassingbe, to remain in power indefinitely.


Around 30 police officers armed with truncheons broke up the gathering called by opposition parties and civil society groups, explaining that the event in the capital, Lome, was not authorised.


Nathaniel Olympio, the event organiser, termed the new constitution a “coup” that seeks to deprive the Togolese people of the right to choose their president.


It is not clear when the changes, proposed by lawmakers mostly from the ruling Union for the Republic (UNIR), will come into force.

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