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22 Nov 2018 | 05:09 PM UTC

Togo: Referendum and elections December 16-20 /update 1

Heightened security measures and political gatherings expected ahead of the December 16 referendum and local elections, as well as December 20 legislative elections



Campaigning for the December 20 legislative elections will be held from December 4 through December 18. Furthermore, a referendum on institutional and constitutional changes, as well as local elections, will be held on December 16. The C14 coalition of opposition parties and other groups have called for protests ahead of the votes. Clashes between protesters and security personnel are possible.

The government has announced that a special security force made of 8000 police officers would be established and deployed to maintain order and secure political rallies, polling stations, electoral material, and political figures throughout the country ahead, during, and following the legislative elections. 


The opposition has stated that free and fair elections cannot be organized by December 20 given the ongoing political crisis. Supporters of the C14 coalition held a protest in the capital Lomé on November 17 to denounce various issues surrounding the elections and voter registration, as well as to denounce the regime's perceived attempt to change the constitution via the referendum to allow President Faure Gnassingbé to rule the country until 2030.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets to demand that President Gnassingbé, in power since 2005, step down. Over a dozen people have been killed in opposition protests ongoing since mid-August 2017.

The current wave of political protests comes amid negotiations - which resumed on June 27 after a three-month suspension - between the government and the opposition. According to a statement issued by opposition leaders, the government has refused to comply with a list of previously agreed upon demands, including a return to the 1992 constitution as well as a referendum on constitutional amendments to reform the electoral system. Furthermore, the coalition accuses the government of blocking the implementation of a roadmap outlined by the regional organization ECOWAS to end the ongoing political crisis. According to the C14, the government continues to arrest opposition activists and has refused to release detainees.


Individuals in Togo, particularly Lomé, are advised to avoid all public gatherings due to the risk of violence, closely monitor developments, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.

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