U.S. expresses concerns over rising levels of violence, restrictions in Togo

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The U.S. said it is deeply concerned about rising levels of violence and restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly in Togo related to protests over proposed constitutional reforms.

The Department of States spokesperson, Heather Nauert, said in a statement that the U.S. cautioned against excessive use of force and indiscriminate arrest of demonstrators.

“We are particularly troubled by reports of excessive use of force by security forces and reports that Government-sponsored vigilantes are using force and the threat of force to disrupt protests and intimidate civilians.

“The United States is also concerned with the Government of Togo’s decision to restrict demonstrations during the workweek and to arrest a prominent imam in the city of Sokode.

The U.S. called on the Government of Togo to uphold its citizens’ human rights, notably their freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and internet freedom.

“Government of Togo should also ensure that all those arrested during demonstrations are afforded the right to due process,” the statement said.

“The United States deplores the violence that has claimed the lives of protesters and security forces alike.

“We urge all parties to renounce violence. We encourage the Government and opposition to engage in dialogue without preconditions, which is the only solution to the current impasse.”

NAN reports that on Tuesday Gambia’s Foreign Minister Ousainou Darboeogo urged President Faure Gnassingbe to resign immediately.

He called on the African Union and West African regional bloc ECOWAS to persuade him to step down.

Mr. Darboeogo’s comments indicate opinion is shifting against Gnassingbe who took power in 2005 on the death of his father who ruled from 1967.

Togo has been facing a political crisis in which at least ten have died since August as frustration builds over the slow pace of reform with Gnassingbe’s opponents seeking term limits and other constitutional reform.

The UN has called for action. (NAN)


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