Togo opposition wants regional backing for political change
Togo's opposition on Thursday called on regional leaders to pressure the country's government to accept the reality of political change, as its supporters again protested against President Faure Gnassingbe.
A coalition of 14 parties, which has led almost weekly demonstrations since August, appealed to heads of state and government attending Saturday's ECOWAS summit in Abuja to put pressure on the regime.
Gnassingbe, who currently holds the rotating presidency of the Economic Community of West African States, has led Togo since 2005 after the death of his father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema.
The general himself was in charge for 38 years.
The wave of demonstrations has seen calls for the introduction of a maximum two-term presidential mandate and two-round voting system.
Opposition parties said Gnassingbe's counterparts should "put everything in place so that at the Abuja summit, the regime that has governed the country for more than 50 years takes on board and finally accepts the alternation of power".
The statement said Togo was an "unacceptable political anomaly" in the region, where two-term limits on presidents have become the norm.
"All institutions in the country are locked up in favour of a single family and... the ballot box has no meaning," it added, warning that action was needed to prevent the situation in Togo becoming "uncontrollable".
"The fight that Togo's people have been having for four months has only one goal: to allow our country to enjoy democracy."
Togo's government has opened preliminary discussions with a handful of opposition parties to pave the way for talks to end the political stand-off, as recommended by West African leaders.
But they are not part of the coalition, which has condemned the closed-door discussions and the government for wanting to organise and be part of the process, rather than allowing mediators in.