At least two people were killed and dozens wounded during clashes people security forces and anti-government demonstrations seeking to end the half a century rule of the Gnassingbe family dynasty.
Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe took reigns from his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema after his death in 2005. Eyadema ruled the small West African nation for 38 years.
Thousands of protesters gathered in the capital, Lome chanting “50 years is too long,” demanding the reinstatement of two-five-year presidential term limits.
It was a provision that Eyadema introduced in 1992 in response to a similar opposition protest that nearly pushed him out of power. However, in 2002, lawmakers amended it to enable Eyadema to run for another term.
Riot police backed by the army used tear gas and live rounds to quell Saturday’s protest, which is now spreading to other parts of the nation.
Togolese authorities said 12 soldiers were wounded during the clashes, blaming the opposition of inciting the protest to make the country ungovernable.
Togolese youths are drawing inspiration from neighboring Gambia, where its iron-fist autocratic ruler was defeated following a crackdown on opposition activists.
President Faure Gnassingbe won a third term in April 2015 with 59 percent of the votes, defeating four other candidates, including his main challenger, Jean-Pierre Fabre.
Faure Gnassingbe’s first election victory in 2005 saw protests erupt in Lome in which at least 500 people were killed and security forces violently clamping down on opposition militants.