Togo’s heads of a parliamentary commission were expected to meet on Wednesday to review a draft bill on constitutional reform.
The bill was introduced by the government last week in an endeavour to counter the growing anti-government protests which have been marked by police firing teargas at peaceful sit-ins held by opposition members as they called for President Faure Gnassingbe’s resignation.
The reform bill review followed protesting opposition members forcing Togo’s parliament to suspend its session on Tuesday after the opposition cited a lack of promised discussion on constitutional reforms, in addition to anger over the continuing 50-year-rule of the Gnassingbe family.
Opposition lawmakers are demanding debate on reinstating the country’s 1992 constitution, which included presidential term limits and two rounds of voting to allow the opposition to reassemble behind one candidate, the Voice of America (VOA) reported on Tuesday.
However, it was not clear when a vote on the reform bill might take place.
A similar constitutional reform draft bill was rejected two years ago in parliament, where the ruling party holds a majority of seats.
Furthermore, despite Gnassingbe stating that he would not run again in 2020, the opposition has said it suspects he will not quit power unless compelled to step down.
Before his 2005 death, Gnassingbe’s father, Eyadéma Gnassingbe, who ruled for 38 years, modified the constitution to remove the limit of two five-year presidential terms.
And it’s not only opposing parliamentarians who are angry at the political stalemate.
Thousands of Togolese have been demonstrating across the small West African nation recently, calling for term limits on Gnassingbe, who has been in power since his father died in 2005.
The protests kicked off in August following the deaths of two people at the hands of security forces during clashes which also left a number of people injured.
The unrest in Togo also led to the postponement, at Gnassingbe’s request, of an Israel-Africa Summit that was meant to take place there next month, according to Israel’s Foreign Minsitry.
However, the Palestinians and their supporters claim that political pressure from South Africa and a number of African countries, prior to the unrest in Togo, was also partly responsible for the cancellation of the summit.
The summit is part of Israel’s efforts to win the support of African nations on the global stage and especially at the United Nations, where resolutions in the General Assembly regularly criticise Israel on the Palestinian issue.
A new date for the summit has yet to be established.