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Togo president reiterates political dialogue call in New Year message

President of Togo, Faure Gnassingbe, has reiterated his call for the opposition to accept dialogue as the government presses for an end to a running political crisis.

In his New Year addressed delivered to the nation on Wednesday evening (January 3, 2018), the 51-year-old called for opponents to join talks aimed at settling their differences and moving the nation forward.

“I have faith in our ability to transcend our differences to evolve the institutional and political framework, while preserving the social fabric. I remain convinced that the only outlet that allows us to find the way back to progress is dialogue,” he said.

This is not the first time the president has called for dialogue. The coalition refused to honour the government’s mediation effort opting rather to join one led by the government of their western neighbour, Ghana.

The 14-member opposition coalition has since August 2017 called for anti-government protests in the capital Lome and across other cities in the West African country. A number of people have died, others sustained injuries and mass arrests made by security forces.

The coalition is calling for the incumbent to resign from his post as they push for an end to what they call the ‘Gnassingbe dynasty.’ Referring to a father and son combined presidency of over five decades.

Eyadema, Faure’s father ruled Togo for 38 years till his death in 2005. Faure – a then Minister – with the backing of the military was sworn in contrary to existing law which indicated that the speaker of parliament had to assume the presidency till fresh elections were held.

Faure resigned under international pressure but won elections held later that year. He has since won two more elections in 2010 and 2015 – his current mandate runs till 2020. A key part of the opposition demand is for a return to the 1992 constitution which caps presidential terms.

The government as part of reforms has accepted it but it is not expected to take retroactive effect, meaning Faure could have two more attempts at the presidency after 2020.

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