Several thousand women protest in Togo's capital - Daily Nation

Several thousand women protest in Togo's capital

Friday September 21 2012

Women dressed in red take part in a march on 20 September, 2012 in Lome in the latest string of protests by a group demanding sweeping political reform. Men and youths joined several thousand women in the march organised by the women's wing of Let's Save Togo, an opposition and civil society coalition that has called on Togo's President Faure Gnassingbe to resign. Photo/AFP

Women dressed in red take part in a march on 20 September, 2012 in Lome in the latest string of protests by a group demanding sweeping political reform. Men and youths joined several thousand women in the march organised by the women's wing of Let's Save Togo, an opposition and civil society coalition that has called on Togo's President Faure Gnassingbe to resign. Photo/AFP NATION MEDIA GROUP

By AFP

Several thousand women dressed in red marched in Togo's capital Lome on Thursday shouting anti-government slogans, in the latest in a string of protests by a group demanding sweeping political reform.

The march was organised by the women's wing of Let's Save Togo, an opposition and civil society coalition that has called on President Faure Gnassingbe to resign.

Togo's government has banned protests in commercial centres, citing the difficulty in maintaining public order in such areas. Opposition groups say the ban is an attempt to stifle critics.

The opposition has since June staged several protests in Lome, most of which were dispersed by security forces using teargas.

Unlike the opposition's weekend protest in which about 40 people were injured, Thursday's march was held without incident.

Some protesters carried placards that read "Togo women, we know that Togo is in danger", as they filed through streets before holding a final rally.

"The president must listen to the people," Brigitte Kafui Adjamagbo-Johnson, one of the protest's organisers, told AFP.

"In 2015 ... he should commit himself to not running in presidential elections," she said. "Nobody should rule this country for more than 10 years."

Togo has been run by the same family for more than four decades. Gnassingbe Eyadema ruled the country for 38 years with an iron fist until his death in 2005.

The military installed his son Faure Gnassingbe after his death. He has since won elections in 2005 and 2010, and the constitution does not place limits on his tenure.

A recent government-led dialogue ended with a recommendation that presidents be limited to two five-year terms, but it did not specify if it would apply immediately, raising the possibility that Gnassingbe could remain in office until 2025.

Protesters have been seeking a delay in parliamentary elections to first allow reforms to take place, as well as the repeal of changes to electoral laws they say the government pushed through.

While the elections are theoretically due in October, no date has been set and they are widely expected to be delayed. (READ: Togo vows to block opposition's Tuesday protest)