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Togo: How will constitutional amendments impact governance

Togo How will constitutional amendments impact governance www.whoownsafrica.com Togo How will constitutional amendments impact governance www.whoownsafrica.com
Togo's Incumbent President Faure Gnassingbe speaks to media after he casting his ballot at a polling station in Lome, Togo, 2015.

Togo, a small West African nation, is currently facing a pivotal moment in its political history with the upcoming parliamentary elections. The approved amendments to the constitution have brought about significant changes in the country’s governance system, with potential implications for the future of democracy in Togo.

One of the most striking changes brought about by the constitutional amendments is the elimination of presidential polls, which means that voters will no longer directly elect the country’s president. Instead, lawmakers will now play a crucial role in selecting the head of state, effectively making them the kingmakers in Togo’s political landscape.

This shift in power dynamics has sparked widespread outrage among the Togolese populace, leading to protests and tensions ahead of the parliamentary elections. Critics argue that this move consolidates the long-standing rule of President Faure Gnassingbé and limits the democratic rights of the people to choose their leader through direct elections.

Togo How will constitutional amendments impact governance www.whoownsafrica.com
Togolese Protesters demand end to Gnassingbe’s rule.

The recent changes made to the constitution in a parliament dominated by the UNIR party have sparked controversy and heated debate among opposition politicians and civil society groups. The amendments, which were approved despite strong opposition, drastically alter the way the country’s presidents will be elected.

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With the president’s role becoming largely ceremonial and limited to one four-year term, a new prime minister appointed by the president for a six-year term will now hold significant power. Many suspect that President Gnassingbe, who is limited to one more presidential term, is strategically positioning himself for this new role.

The move has been criticized for consolidating power and potentially undermining democratic principles. Afololabi Adekaiyaoja, a researcher at the CDD, expressed concerns that the changes could lead to a loyalist president being appointed by parliament, creating a potential conflict of interest.

The president’s delay in signing off on the amendments reflects the widespread unpopularity of the decision, further fueling tensions within the country.

The recent change in Togo’s electoral system solidifies Gnassingbe’s power and his family’s dynasty, as he has been in control since 2005 following the reign of his father.

With a combined 57 years of ruling, the Gnassingbe family holds the title of the longest-ruling dynasty government in Africa. The upcoming elections have attracted around 2,000 candidates competing for parliamentary and regional council seats.

Togo How will constitutional amendments impact governance www.whoownsafrica.com
Togo’s Incumbent President Faure Gnassingbe speaks to media after he casting his ballot at a polling station in Lome, Togo, 2015.

The amended term length for parliament members will now be six years instead of five, leading to a potentially longer reign for those in power.

The major parties in the running include UNIR, the ruling party, UFC led by veteran opposition candidate Gilchrist Olympio, and ANC led by outspoken government critic Jean-Pierre Fabre. The competition for these seats is intense, as each party aims to secure a victory in the upcoming elections.

Togo’s strategic importance as a maritime trade hub in Africa further complicates the situation, with potential implications for regional stability and trade. Any unrest in Togo could have ripple effects on trade routes and economic activities in the region, highlighting the need for a peaceful and democratic transition of power in the country.

As the people of Togo head to the polls, these elections are viewed as a critical juncture in the country’s political history. The outcome of the parliamentary elections and the subsequent selection of the country’s leader will have far-reaching implications for the future of governance in Togo and the broader West African region.

In conclusion, the constitutional amendments in Togo and the upcoming parliamentary elections are shaping up to be a defining moment for the country. The way in which these changes impact governance and democracy in Togo will be closely watched by international observers and could have significant implications for the future trajectory of the nation.


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