Skip to main content

Togo security forces clash with opposition over electoral law

From Erick Kaglan, For CNN
June 13, 2012 -- Updated 1509 GMT (2309 HKT)
Togolese security forces shoot tear gas at protesters demonstrating against a new electoral law.
Togolese security forces shoot tear gas at protesters demonstrating against a new electoral law.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Thousands of protesters express ire by throwing stones
  • The law is passed prior to elections slated for October
  • "It favors the ruling party," a demonstrator says

Lome, Togo (CNN) -- Togolese security forces shot canisters of tear gas to disperse angry anti-government protesters who demonstrated against a new electoral law Tuesday in this capital city.

Protesters defied the security forces for three hours, throwing stones and other objects.

The West African nation's parliament passed the law two weeks ago, ahead of parliamentary and municipal elections due in October.

"This law is unfair," shouted one supporter of the Save Togo Movement, which is composed of six opposition parties and nine civil society organizations. "It favors the ruling party, and we are not going to tolerate that this time around. We are going to fight every day until it's withdrawn from parliament."

As the clashes continued in opposition strongholds of this port city in southern Togo, militants set tires ablaze along some of the streets in the capital while security forces engaged them in street battles.

"This motley gathering is a lever exploited by certain members of the opposition prior to the legislative elections with the goal of creating an artificial tension," the posting said.

Security forces said the intervention was necessary.

"We were compelled to shoot tear gas to disperse them because they began hurting our forces with stones and we were not ready to take that long," said Col. Yark Damehame, commander of the National Gendarmerie in charge of the security forces.

Zeus Ajavon, a lawyer who helped organize the demonstration, blamed the clashes on security forces, saying they sparked the violence by arresting some of the militants.

"We want these three-day demonstrations to have an impact and we want the law to be purely and simply withdrawn from parliament," he said.

Ajavon said the electoral law "amounts to the ruling party's attempt to rig the next elections" and promised not to give up if his goals are not immediately achieved. "If the government doesn't react at the end of the three-day demonstrations, we will call on new demonstrations in the coming days," he vowed.

A number of shops in Lome's commercial center remained closed after the demonstrations.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT