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50 years of hurt: Togo protesters vow to continue

Thousands take to the streets in Togo to demand the reinstatement of the 1992 constitution. PHOTO AFRICAN ARGUMENTS

Lome, Togo | AFRICAN ARGUMENTS  On Saturday 19 August, shocking images of the bodies of protesters being carried on stretchers started flooding social media in Togo.

That day, thousands of citizens had taken to the streets to demand democratic reforms and the restoration of the country’s 1992 constitution. Calling for change after half a century of rule by the Gnassingbe family, demonstrators marched to chants of “50 years is too long”.

The protests were largely peaceful, but in the town of Sokode, security forces opened fire to disperse demonstrations. Officials say two protesters were killed, but some claim the real number is higher.

As photos of this violence spread, it brought back some familiar memories. It reminded some of the early-1990s, when a similar democracy movement gained momentum in Togo before it was brutally cut short by the regime of General Gnassingbe Eyadema.

That repressive strongman died in 2005, but his son, Faure Gnassingbe, took over and has continued his father’s style of leadership. Over the years, this has led a new generation of Togolese to grow increasingly impatient, culminating in this weekend’s mobilisation to demand reforms once more.

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