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At least 80 arrested after Togo's latest anti-government protests


At least 80 opposition protesters have been arrested after two days of demonstration demanding the departure of President Faure Gnassingbe.

According to the Civil Service Minister Gilbert Bawara, the people were arrested Thursday night for “preparing to commit violent acts, vandalise shops”, AFP reports.

The arrests were made after the police dispersed the crowds with tear gas in the Be area of the capital Lome where tyres were burned and used as barricades.

The main opposition National Alliance for Change (ANC) party Eric Dupuy told AFP that at least 100 people have been detained.

The government can only encourage the majority parties and the opposition to find a compromise to vote on the bill.

The leader of the Panafrican National Party, Tikpi Atchadam who is protesting with ANC leader Jean-Pierre Fabre, has accused the government of intimidating him with security forces surrounding his house.

The opposition protesters have vowed to continue the protests until the original two five-year term limits are restored including a two-ballot system, reform of the Constitutional Court and the Electoral Commission.

Internet was shutdown and telephone networks were cut sporadically since Wednesday when the renewed protests began.

The two-day protest called by the six-party opposition coalition CAP 2015 and the Pan-African National Party (PNP), is a follow up of the massive August 19 and 20 demonstration that saw Togolese nationals in about half a dozen cities around the world joining in.

At least seven people were killed in clashes with security forces during last month’s demonstration in the north of the capital Lome.

27 people were arrested and 15 were handed sentences ranging between five and nine months.

The government on Wednesday passed a draft bill to modify Article 59 of the constitution which will address the concerns of the protesters including the reintroduction of presidential term limits.

Parliament was called to end their break and hold an extraordinary session on September 12 to examine the bill.

“The government can only encourage the majority parties and the opposition to find a compromise to vote on the bill,” Civil Service Minister Bawara told AFP.

The UN’s special representative in West Africa and the Sahel, Mohamed Ibn Chambas met Gnassingbe and Fabre in Lome on Thursday.

He told the state television that he congratulated Gnassingbe for proposing the bill to parliament and encouraged Fabre to join talks with the government to “advance the reform agenda.”

President Faure Gnassingbe has been in power for 12 years and is currently serving his third term which will end in 2020.

It is unclear if he will stand again for re-election as the details of the proposals to parliament are vague.

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