LOME, TOGO - 12-09-20   -  Women in a trance-like state call curses on the government.  Approximately 300 women dressed in red marched through the Togolese capital city of LomŽ on Thursday, September 20 as part of a protest organized by the opposition coalitions Lets Save Togo (Collectif Sauvons le Togo, CST) Coalition ARC-EN-CIEL.  Several thousand men and youths joined the women in the peaceful march, which ended at an opposition rally point.  Photo by Daniel Hayduk/ AFP

Togo’s ruling party calls on supporters to counter opposition protests

Togo’s ruling party urged its supporters to take to the streets of the capital, Lome to show support for embattled President Faure Gnassingbe.

Supporters of Gnassingbe’s UNIR will be showing support for controversial constitutional reforms on Wednesday and Thursday, the same days opposition protesters plan to take to the streets.

Fear is widespread that the two groups may clash and could see violence escalating to what could lead to days of bloodshed in the tiny West African state.

Georges Kwawu Aidam, the first vice president of ruling party said their protest is to “say no to violence” and counter opposition demands.

Togo’s opposition made 48 demands to the parliament for political reforms but was rejected by lawmakers, most of whom are members of Gnassingbe’s party.

However, Togo’s Parliament has agreed to introduce a presidential term limit after days of opposition protests brought international attention to the political crisis and forced Israel to cancel its meeting with African leaders in Lome.

Faure Gnassingbe came to power in 2005 following the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had ruled since 1967.

Togo’s Constitution has been modified many times, including term limits being scratched to help entrench the Gnassingbe clan in power.

The family has enjoyed the backing of the military, which according to rights campaigners is unleashing violence on opposition protesters, allegations authorities vehemently deny.

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