The opposition coalition has refused to cancel two protests planned for the capital Lomé next week. The refusal follows a government ban, implemented on October 11, on all weekday demonstrations (i.e. Monday to Friday) until further notice. The coalition maintains that it had given adequate notification of the demonstrations and hence protests are still planned to take place on Wednesday, October 18, with a march ending in front of the National Assembly, and on October 19, with a march ending in front of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) building. Further demonstrations are likely in the short term, with a heightened possibility of associated violence.
Numerous opposition sit-ins and marches - some of which turned violent - have been held in Lomé and other cities over the past two months. Demonstrations have been organized by various opposition groups, including the Pan-African National Party (PNP), the Combat pour l'Alternance Politique en 2015 (CAP 2015), and the Groupe des Six. Thousands have taken to the streets demanding that President Faure Gnassingbe, who has been in power since 2005, step down. Demonstrators have also demanded the unconditional release of those arrested during protests that took place on August 19-20, the immediate cessation of prosecutions and violence against PNP activists and leaders, and the establishment of an independent international commission to investigate violence by security forces against protesters.
On September 19, parliament failed to approve a draft bill that would amend the constitution to reduce the presidential term limit. The government had hoped the bill would appease the opposition, who demand institutional reforms promised by Gnassingbe during the 2015 electoral campaign. Parliament reportedly intends to bypass the legislature by organizing a referendum on the issue; opposition figures have denounced the vote.
Individuals present in Togo, particularly in Lomé, are advised to monitor developments to the situation and avoid all demonstrations as violence may flare up without warning.