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Togo Postpones Elections Amidst Reforms: Opposition React

TOGO’S government announced on Wednesday the postponement of legislative elections scheduled for April 20, following the approval of highly contentious constitutional reforms. The move comes amidst escalating tensions fuelled by opposition claims that the reforms were designed to consolidate President Faure Gnassingbe’s grip on power in the West African nation.

President Gnassingbe, who has been in office since 2005 following the succession of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, has faced accusations of electoral irregularities in previous elections. The recent reforms, passed in March, triggered widespread opposition alleging a ploy to extend Gnassingbe’s rule.


‘In light of recent events and the need for broader consultations, the government has decided to postpone the legislative elections,’ stated a spokesperson from the presidency. ‘These consultations are essential for ensuring the integrity and inclusivity of the electoral process.’

The decision to delay the elections came after a week of heightened tensions, during which the opposition decried the reforms as a manoeuvre to perpetuate Gnassingbe’s presidency. ‘The National Assembly wished to have some days to engage in broad consultations with all stakeholders,’ the presidency added. ‘Consequently, the government will conduct a slight rearrangement of the calendar of legislative and regional elections initially scheduled for April 20.’

The reforms proposed a shift from a presidential to a parliamentary system, granting the assembly the authority to elect the president for a single six-year term. Additionally, the law introduced the position of ‘president of the council of ministers,’ akin to a designated prime minister, to be elected by lawmakers without debate.

‘The unilateral passing of these reforms without genuine dialogue is a flagrant disregard for democratic principles,’ remarked an opposition leader, speaking on condition of anonymity. ‘This move only serves to consolidate President Gnassingbe’s hold on power and suppresses the voices of the Togolese people.’

Amidst the escalating situation, US officials have urged President Gnassingbe to ensure a peaceful and democratic resolution. ‘We are closely monitoring the situation in Togo and emphasise the importance of upholding democratic norms and respecting the will of the people,’ stated a spokesperson from the US State Department.

Meanwhile, the Togo Bishops’ Conference has called for a delay in promulgating the new constitution, advocating for inclusive political dialogue. ‘We urge President Gnassingbe to heed the calls for dialogue and engage in sincere efforts to address the concerns of all stakeholders,’ remarked a representative from the Conference.

The postponement of elections and the contentious constitutional reforms underscore the deepening political divide in Togo, with opposition voices intensifying their calls for democratic reforms and transparent governance.

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