Togo concern for critically ill arrested politician, 74

A 74-year-old politician facing “critical” health issues is imprisoned amidst a crackdown on dissent by Togolese authorities, as per a spokesperson for the nation’s opposition coalition.

Tensions escalated following the passage of a bill by Togo’s parliament proposing significant alterations to the political landscape.

The elections initially slated for April 20 were subsequently postponed.

According to a spokesperson for the DMK coalition, five opposition activists were detained for their campaigning against the proposed reforms.

The bill, approved on March 25, would transform the presidency into a symbolic role appointed by parliament, rather than being directly elected, with executive authority shifting to a prime minister.

Opposition factions have rebuffed the reform, expressing concerns that it could perpetuate President Faure Gnassingbé’s hold on power.

Gnassingbé succeeded his father, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, who ruled the country with an iron grip for 38 years until his death in 2005.

Members of the DMK (Dynamique Monseigneur Kpodzro) were arrested after publicly denouncing the reform, with worries raised about the health of Dovi Amouzou, a 74-year-old politician among the detainees.

The detained politicians are facing charges related to public order, as stated by their lawyer, Elom Kpade.

Reports indicate they have been transferred to the civil prison in the capital, Lomé.

A probe has been launched into allegations of inciting unrest during an unauthorized protest, although these claims have been refuted by the opposition spokesperson.

No revised election date has been announced.

The Conference of Togolese Catholic bishops has called on President Gnassingbé to refrain from signing the constitutional amendments into law, advocating for broader consultation and inclusive national discourse.

Opposition parties, underrepresented in Togo’s parliament, had boycotted previous elections, leading to near-unanimous approval of the constitutional changes.

The presidency has cited the delay as necessary for further consultations regarding the contentious reforms.