Lome (Togo): A group set up to bridge differences between Togo's President and the country's opposition adopted a proposal this week, which calls for a two-term limit for the head of state, marking a major step forward for the nation ruled by the same family for the past 45 years.
Togo's constitution currently allows the president to serve unlimited terms. The violent protests that broke out this summer were against the backdrop of the multi-decade rule of the Gnassingbes, starting in 1963, when Eyadema Gnassingbe, a junior officer led the soldiers that assassinated the country's former president.
He governed from 1967 until his death in 2005, and immediately after, the military installed his son, Faure Gnassingbe. Although the younger Gnassingbe has since won two elections, his presidency is still seen by many as an illegitimate extension of his father's reign.
"The latest decision is a major step forward in the political history of Togo," said Cornelius Aidam, a leading member of the opposition Pan-African Patriotic Convergence Party, which took part in the breakthrough dialogue. "But a lot will still depend on President Faure Gnassingbe's political goodwill, if the electoral laws are not retroactive."
The political dialogue which ended Thursday was convened by Gnassingbe, and his prime minister chaired the proceedings.
Members of his government were present when the two-term limit was adopted, implying that the president himself supports the measure. However, laws in Togo are not retroactive, and so it's unlikely that either his first five-year term, which ended in 2010, or the current term that he is serving now, would count toward the two-term limit.
Attempts to reach his spokesman to clarify whether Gnassingbe supports the two-term limit have been unsuccessful.
First Published: Sunday, September 16, 2012, 10:40