Public buildings in Togo’s second largest city of Sokode were reportedly torched by angry protesters late Monday night after the arrest of an Imam and opposition figure.
The gendarmerie, post office, parts of the Togo Telecoms building among others were targeted by the protesters who clashed with the security forces, local media reported. The Imam, Alpha Alhassane is a revered spiritual leader in the city and a known adviser of the opposition Pan-African National Party leader Tikpi Atchadam.
The reason for his arrest is unknown but reported to be linked to the series of anti-government protests organised by the opposition. The police fired tear gas to quell the protests which are reported to have spread to the capital Lome.
Several people have been arrested in the process.
Togo banned protests during the weekdays to avoid violence, the interior minister announced last week. The Togolese opposition are calling for a two five-year term limit for presidents as well as a two-round voting system.
A bill was tabled before parliament by the cabinet during the early September round of demonstrations to reinstate the term limits which were struck out by the father of Faure Gnassingbe before his death. The opposition rejected the draft bill to modify Article 59 of the constitution which has maintained the exclusion of the clause that says “no one can serve more than two terms”.
They believe it is a ploy to allow Faure, who is serving his third term, to attempt a fourth in 2020. Their boycott of parliament on Tuesday blocked the passage of the bill forcing it to be decided in a referendum due to the lack of the needed four-fifths majority.