Togo shuts down Internet amid protests


    Thousands of opposition supporters in Togo have marched through the streets of the capital, Lomé, to oppose the rule of President Faure Gnassingbé.

    A local reporter has described the number of protesters as “unprecedented”.

    A government concession to bring about a two-term presidential limit, through a constitutional amendment, failed to dissuade the protesters.

    They want Mr Gnassingbé, who has been in power since 2005, to step down.

    He became president after the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had been at the helm for 38 years.

    Internet access has been severely restricted in the country with some users saying the internet speeds are slow and access to social media platforms has been limited.

    Government spokesperson Gilbert Bawara told a local radio station that there was an ongoing internet restriction.

    “Even in most developed countries, authorities take control of telecommunications in some cases,” he said.

    AFP news agency reported that mobile internet had been shut down in the capital but added that wi-fi networks were still working.

    BBC Afrique’s Ata Ahli Ahebla reports that demonstrations took place in many cities and that more are planned for tomorrow.

    He adds that the decision by the cabinet to propose a constitutional change to bring about a presidential term-limit had not changed the protesters’ plans.

    They see it as part of play to extend Mr Gnassingbé’s rule.

    The protests were organised by a coalition of opposition parties and civil society organisations.

    Local journalist Blamé Ekoué reported that organisers said that they would not relent in their push for a two-term presidential limit and for the release of some of their members who were arrested, charged and sentenced after similar protests last week.

    In August, two opposition protesters were killed and 13 others wounded when security forces opened fire to break up demonstrations.

    They chanted: “50 years is too long”.