Political dialogue to start February 15

02/02/2018
Political dialogue to start February 15

Suspension of the public demonstrations

Mediators announced Friday that Togo will enter talks on controversial constitutional reform February 15, in a move aimed at ending a crippling political stalemate.

However, opposition supporters said they would push ahead with a protest march, scheduled for Saturday.

A rolling series of demonstrations against President Faure Gnassingbe has been unfolding for several months, and the country has been rocked by striking teachers and health workers.

West African leaders in November called for both sides in Togo to enter talks mediated by President Nana Akufo-Addo, from neighbouring Ghana, and Guinea's Alpha Conde.

The opposition coalition demanded "measures for de-escalation", including the release of detained prisoners and the withdrawal of security forces.

"The opening of the dialogue will take place on February 15 in Lome," Ghana and Guinea said the statement.

According to the statement, signed by Ghana's security minister, Albert Kan-Dapaah, and Guinea's state minister, Tibou Kamara, the date was set after "exchanges and consultations" during meetings on January 31 and February 1.

"The concerns of the 14 party coalition regarding people in custody in connection with the Kara and Lome market fires will be given priority, in a spirit of appeasement," said the statement.

"The case of other people still in detention for acts committed during public demonstrations going on since August 19, 2017... will be examined in the same spirit."

All the actors "agree on the suspension of the public demonstrations" during the course of the talks.

The opposition parties want to restrict presidents to a maximum of two, five-year terms of office, and introduce a two-round voting system.

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