Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Head of the United Nations office for West Africa and the Sahel on Thursday met with the Togolese president, Faure Gnassingbe, who is facing a political crisis.
Opposition groups in the West African country have in the last weeks called for Faure to step down and end a five decade dynasty that saw his father rule the country for 38 years.
The president’s Twitter account shared a photo of the meeting and added that “Dr. Ibn Chambas, welcomed the adoption by the Council of Ministers of the draft law on constitutional review.”
The said law is meant to reintroduce presidential term limits which was scrapped to allow Faure continue in power. Ibn Chambas was crucial in 2005 talks that helped quell anti-government protests at the time.
Activists have, however, strongly rejected his involvement in the current process, alleging that he was scheming with the president on how to continue in power.
Meanwhile, a second day of protests has kicked off in the country after a successful first day (September 6) that saw hundreds of thousands march in the country’s capital, Lome and other major towns.
At the heart of the protests are calls for the revision of the 1992 Constitution which was modified in 2002 allowing Faure Gnassingbe to run for an unlimited term.
The opposition says they want the original two five-year term limit to be restored, a two-ballot system, reform of the Constitutional Court and the Electoral Commission. President Faure Gnassingbe has been in power since his father Gnassingbe Eyadema died after spending 38 years in office.
The 1992 constitution brought in a semblence of multi-party democracy after decades of dictatorship, and limited presidential terms to two, but ten years later lawmakers amended it to enable Eyadema to run for another term.
Then, when he died, the military sidestepped the constitution by installing his son as interim president, instead of the head of the national assembly, as was legally required. He later resigned before winning polls in 2005 and securing re-election twice in 2010 and 2015.
The protests that followed Faure Gnassingbe’s first election victory in 2005 triggered a violent security crackdown in which around 500 people were killed.