Opponents slam Togo's new constitution as ploy for Gnassingbé to stay in power

Togo’s presidency has asked the parliament for a "second reading" of a controversial constitutional reform approved last week following public outcry over what opponents say is a ploy by President Faure Gnassingbé to hold onto power and extend his nearly two-decade-long rule.

A "second reading" of the reform was justified by the "interest of the public aroused by the text since its adoption" last week, Gnassingbé’s office said in a statement published Friday.

The constitutional reform, which was approved with 89 votes in favour, one against and one abstention, would grant parliament the power to choose the President, doing away with direct elections.

This would make it likely that Gnassingbé, whose party controls the parliament, would be re-elected in next year's presidential election.

'Avoiding' voters

The move towards a parliamentary system is a way for Gnassingbé to avoid facing voters at the polls, says Brigitte Adjamagbo-Johnson, of the opposition Democratic convention of the African people (CDPA).

"This is being done to avoid direct voting for the president, because the person holding power knows very well that it will be difficult to continue to cheat and tamper with presidential elections," she told RFI.

"He was never elected, you know, and he knows that the Togolese people are lying in wait for him in the next election".

The role, similar to that of a Prime Minister, would go to the leader of the party or majority coalition of parties following legislative elections.

Read more on RFI English

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