Togo dipping into catastrophe with polls looming


Massive Togo protests

from ESSIE KOMBATE in Lome, Togo
Togo Correspondent
LOME, (CAJ News) – SPIRALING into the latest restive hotspot in the volatile West African bloc, Togo has plunged into bloodbath with elections on the horizon.

Ahead of the April 13 poll, unidentified assailants have targeted military convoys, opposition are dissatisfied with the prevailing political and economic atmosphere and civilians are restless.

The northern Savanes region bordering the crisis-torn Burkina Faso, is the epicentre of the crises bedeviling Togo.

On Tuesday this week, the National Assembly extended the state of security emergency in Savanes through at least Wednesday.

Authorities have cited recurrent attacks targeting security forces, civilians and infrastructure.

This comes against the backdrop of upcoming legislative and regional elections scheduled for April.

The measure was first implemented in mid-2022, following a string of attacks targeting security personnel.

The government announced that terrorism-related incidents, including ambushes and bombings, left at least 31 people killed, 29 injured, and three unaccounted for in 2023.

President Faure Gnassingbe previously announced in April 2023 that attacks left at least 100 civilians and 40 soldiers killed since 2021.

A security source this week explained an increased security posture in Savanes.

Security forces were establishing checkpoints and roadblocks, likely prompting associated ground transport disruptions in the region.

“The implementation of curfews remains possible,” the source said.

“Further militant attacks may also occur, generally targeting security forces or remote civilian settlements.”

The opposition Dynamics for the Majority of the People (DMP) group has led protests.

DMP is demonstrating against various political and economic issues, including the alleged illegal extension of the mandate of the deputies of the current National Assembly.

Clashes have occurred as security forces attempt to disperse the demonstrators.

The Togolese military has maintained an increased security posture in Savanes.

Last July, unidentified assailants ambushed a military convoy and killed at least 12 Togo Security and Defense Force (SDF) personnel.

Scarcity of fuel, and price hikes when the commodity was available, triggered a strike last September. It sparked an emergence of an illegal, parallel fuel market.

Togo’s head of state has been in power since 2005 after the death of his father, General Eyadema Gnassingbe, who ruled the country for 38 years.

Gnassingbe (57), with the support of the army, has led the country of million people, since the death of his father (of a similar name) in 2005.

Opponents accuse him of rigging elections.

The country is one of the poorest in the world.

At the beginning of March, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a credit facility of US$390 million to Togo.

– CAJ News

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