In Togo, political opposition leader Tikpi Atchadam and his Parti National Panafricain (PNP) have called for general-strike marches in the streets of Lomé on Wednesday.
It’s the first of three protests, also planned for Thursday and Saturday, in a renewed effort to demand the end of President Faure Gnassingbé’s leadership and establish term limits enforced by constitution, a government that ensures human rights and other democratic reforms.
The PNP rejects attempts to form a national unity government without the departure of Gnassingbé, who has led the Togolese since 2005 and followed in the footsteps of his father, who ruled from 1967 until his death.
The April 11 date also marks the anniversary of protesters who died in Lomé in 1991, amid violent protests calling for the ouster of the elder Gnassingbé.
The ruling Union for the Republic (UNIR) party has engaged in political dialogues initiated since thousands of people in the West African nation began public protests last year, some of which became violent and led to fatalities. Yet the PNP insists on fair elections and hasn’t compromised on its call for applying term limits that would ensure a transition without Gnassingbé.
Activists say they also want the right to free speech and assembly protected, and say there is intimidation of opposition figures and banning activities of opposition parties. Government officials publicly acknowledged an intentional Internet shutdown last September.
President Nana Akufo Addo of Ghana has served as a mediator and other leaders of the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), currently led by Gnassingbé himelf, have expressed concern. The African Union, France and the United States also have appealed for peaceful reform.
Image: PNP file