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EOS Alerts 1-9-2017

Togo: Further Protests Planned for 6, 7 September

Anti-government protesting continues against the rule of incumbent president Faure Gnassingbe

Togo is currently experiencing waves of protests and civil unrest. The protesting began last month, when Togo’s political opposition called for strikes and rallies to protest against the rule of incumbent president Faure Gnassingbe, who has been ruling since 1967. The 19th August protests in the northern city of Sokode erupted into violence and several civilians and members of the security forces were killed. Tear gas was used against demonstrators in Lomé, but no casualties were reported. Following initial protests, a coalition of five opposition political parties and the Pan African National Party (PNP) called for a series of further strikes and rallies to protest against the recent police brutality and the leadership the Togolese president. On 28th August, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) issued an updated travel advisory for Togo, which reads in part as follows: “Political demonstrations occur frequently, especially in Lomé, and can turn violent with little warning. Marches are expected to take place in Lomé on September 6 and 7, 2017. Avoid demonstrations and large gatherings, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.” Earlier this week, fifteen high-profile supporters of Togolese opposition party, the Pan African National Party (PAN), were handed jail terms for their alleged role in recent anti-government protests. Sentences ranged between five and nine months. Lawyers described the cases as being politically motivated and without testimony, with one stating “There is nothing in the prosecution case that names a witness who could prove that they were seen somewhere doing a specific crime.” The recent sentences could lead to further protesting. Over a hundred people have been arrested during recent protests calling for an end to the Gnassingbe dynasty, which has ruled the west African nation for five decades.

The violent clashes have increased the risk of unrest in the near term. Strikes planned for 6th, 7th September could affect basic services, travel and port operations in Lomé. Those operating or residing in the city should avoid any large gatherings and limit unnecessary travel during episodes of unrest. Seek safe shelter is tensions further escalate. Previous recent clashes between protesters and police forces have resulted in several deaths. 

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