Togo approves changes to how president is elected through constitutional reform | Latest updates on elections

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Opponents of the changes are concerned that they could lead to President Faure Gnassingbe extending his rule further. Lawmakers in Togo have passed amendments to the constitution regarding presidential term limits and the election process, which has been criticized by some opposition members and civil society organizations as a constitutional coup.

The reforms were initially approved on March 25, but faced backlash, prompting President Gnassingbe to call for more consultations and a second parliamentary vote. The final approval of the amendments came just before the legislative elections scheduled for April 29.

Under the new system, the president will no longer be elected through universal suffrage, but by members of parliament. The amendments also introduce a parliamentary system of government and shorten presidential terms to four years with a two-term limit.

Critics argue that the changes could potentially allow President Gnassingbe to stay in power until 2033, as the time already spent in office is not taken into account. This has raised concerns about the president’s prolonged rule and his family’s control over the country.

Opponents of the amendments have labeled them as a political maneuver to enable President Gnassingbe to extend his tenure indefinitely. The civil society organizations have called on ECOWAS to intervene, describing the reforms as an attempt to consolidate power by a regime resistant to democratic change.

The region has seen several countries implement similar changes to allow presidents to extend their terms, while military coups remain a frequent occurrence. Togo has a history of crackdowns on political dissent, with President Gnassingbe facing criticism over disputed elections in 2020.

The new constitution also establishes a new position, president of the council of ministers, with broad powers to oversee government affairs.

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