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Jihadist militants maintained their presence in northern region.
Al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 5 Oct attacked Togolese military on Koundjoare-Kpekankandi axis in Kpendjal prefecture, Savanes region, killing at least three soldiers.
President Gnassingbé named new security minister in likely attempt to coup-proof govt following recent coups in West Africa and Gabon.
Gnassingbé reshuffled govt ahead of legislative and regional elections. Gnassingbe 8 Sept reshuffled cabinet ahead of legislative and regional elections expected for December, with changes affecting eight ministries. Most notably, long-time ambassador to France, Col. Calixte Batossie Madjoulba, was appointed as security and civil protection minister; change at powerful ministry may come as attempt to prevent military seizure of power after August coup in Gabon, where dynastic Bongo regime shared many similarities with Gnassingbé family’s hegemony over Togo.
Scattered violence from jihadist groups continued in northern region. In Savanes region, explosive device likely planted by al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 11 Sept injured farmer in Djabdjoare village, Kpendjal prefecture.
Al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists launched deadliest attack in country to date, with dozens of civilians killed, suggesting group is durably implanted in northern Togo.
Suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants 10 Feb attacked Tola and Gningou villages, Kpendjal prefecture (Savanes region), leaving 31 civilians dead in what amounts to deadliest jihadist attack in Togo to date; in response, army next day reportedly killed around ten suspected assailants. Improvised explosive device (IED) attacks also continued in Savanes region. Notably, IED 2 Feb reportedly killed between four and 12 civilians in Enamoufali locality, also Kpendjal.
Jihadist militants launched further attacks in northern region.
Suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants launched explosive device attacks in Kpendjal prefecture of Savanes region, reportedly killing at least three soldiers near Tiwoli village 2 Jan and injuring four others near Boatou village 18 Jan.
Jihadist combatants launched deadly attacks on govt forces in northern Savanes region.
Security forces 17 Nov engaged in fighting with al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) combatants in Sankortchagou locality (Savanes region) at border with Burkina Faso; local sources reported at least six soldiers and two jihadists killed. JNIM combatants 24 Nov attacked army post in Tiwoli village (also Savanes); local media reported at least 17 soldiers killed. JNIM claimed both attacks.
State of emergency extended in northern region amid growing jihadist threat.Govt continued to take steps to contain jihadist violence. Govt 6 Sept extended for six months state of emergency in effect in northern Savanes region since 13 June, with goal of streamlining decision-making and facilitating troop deployment amid jihadist threat. UN counter-terrorism office 7 Sept signed agreement with govt to strengthen cooperation in “preventing and countering terrorist travels and serious crimes”.Civil society challenged authorities over approach to insecurity. Several civil society organisations including Togolese League of Human Rights 12 Sept denounced military approach to insecurity in country’s north, urged govt to address socio-political marginalisation there.
Suspected jihadists launched new attack against govt forces in northern region. Alleged jihadists 22 Aug launched complex attack involving improvised explosive device on army patrol in northern Blamonga village, Kpendjal prefecture (Savanes region); after exchange of fire with soldiers, assailants retreated across Burkina Faso border. Local media reported one soldier dead and 12 injured.
Govt airstrike and jihadist raids left about 20 civilians dead in northern Savanes region near Burkina Faso. Airstrike 9 July left seven people dead and two injured in Margba village, Tone prefecture. Armed forces 10 July launched investigation into incident, 14 July announced military aircraft had wrongly targeted civilians, mistaking them for jihadists. Meanwhile, suspected jihadists overnight 14-15 July raided several villages in Kpendjal prefecture, leaving at least 12 civilians dead; overnight 18-19 July killed two soldiers in ambush in Tiwoli village, also Kpendjal prefecture. NGO Amnesty International 27 July urged Togolese authorities to respect human rights in fight with armed groups, citing reports of arbitrary arrests and restrictions on freedoms of assembly and expression.
Suspected jihadists clashed with military in northern region. Following deadly jihadist attack in May, govt 13 June declared three-month state of emergency in northern Savanes region bordering Burkina Faso. Suspected jihadists overnight 15-16 June clashed with military in Goulingoushi area (also Savanes); no casualties reported among soldiers.
Jihadists launched first deadly attack in country, leaving eight soldiers killed. In northern Kpendjal prefecture near border with Burkina Faso, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 11 May attacked army post in Kpinkankandi village, killing eight soldiers and injuring a dozen more; military reportedly killed 15 assailants in response. Govt immediately blamed “terrorists” and JNIM late May claimed attack. EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell 11 May said attack “shows that the terrorist threat is spreading” to Gulf of Guinea countries, stressed need to “redouble efforts” to reverse trend.
Security forces 21 April detained opposition leader and runner-up in Feb presidential election Agbéyomé Kodjo after he challenged results of vote and declared himself country’s legitimate president. Authorities 24 April released Kodjo under judicial supervision after reportedly charging him with inciting public disorder, disseminating fake news and threatening national security.
Constitutional Court 3 March confirmed incumbent President Gnassingbé won Feb presidential election with 70.78% of vote. After main opposition leader and runner-up in presidential election Agbéyomé Kodjo disputed results and accused ruling Union for the Republic party of electoral fraud, parliament 16 March revoked Kodjo’s parliamentary immunity over accusations of inciting public disorder and threatening national security.
Electoral commission 24 Feb released provisional results of 22 Feb presidential election, indicating incumbent President Gnassingbé won 72% of vote. Main opposition candidate and former PM Agbéyomé Kodjo 22 Feb accused authorities of ballot stuffing in favour of Gnassingbé and claimed victory. Former archbishop of capital Lomé Philippe Kpodzro 25 Feb urged citizens to protest against election results; police 28 Feb used tear gas to disperse protesters in Lomé, and surrounded homes of Kodjo and Kpodzro.
Electoral commission 5 July announced provisional results of 30 June local elections: President Gnassingbé’s Union for the Republic party won more municipal councillor seats than any other party (60%); turnout was about 52% and particularly low in capital Lomé. Main opposition parties had boycotted Dec 2018 parliamentary elections, but most ran for municipal seats; Pan-African National Party was only opposition party not to run. Its leader Tikpi Atchadam continued to demand release of activists detained during anti-govt demonstrations 13 April.
Parliament passed law approving constitutional changes that could see President Gnassingbé stay in power until 2030, and military conducted joint military operation with neighbours to prevent jihadist insurgency spreading south from Sahel. MPs 8 May voted in favour of constitutional reform that limits presidential mandate to two five-year terms, but does not count three terms Gnassingbé has already served, thereby allowing him to run in two more elections in 2020 and 2025 and potentially stay in power until 2030; C14 opposition coalition 10 May denounced reform. Electoral commission late April announced local elections would be held 30 June for first time in 32 years; after boycott of Dec 2018 legislative elections C14 14 May announced it would take part in June elections. Militaries of Togo, Burkina Faso, Benin and Ghana conducted joint military operation in border areas 15-18 May and arrested some 200 suspected jihadists, of which 95 Togolese.
Opposition launched new protests calling for constitutional reforms to limit number of presidential terms. Clashes between security forces and protesters in Bafilo, Kara region in north, where govt had denied opposition authorisation to protest, left one protester dead 13 April. As part of Accra Initiative, aimed at fostering regional cooperation against common security threats, representatives of Burkina Faso, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Togo met in capital Lomé 18 April to plan deployment of joint forces along border of Burkina Faso to stem spread of suspected jihadist insurgency. Using intelligence from Burkina Faso authorities, Togolese security forces early April arrested over twenty suspected jihadists from Burkina Faso in northern Togo and transferred them to Burkina Faso.
Over 1,000 supporters of opposition coalition 26 Jan demonstrated in capital Lomé to protest Dec legislative elections results, denouncing “irregularities”.
With mediation between govt and opposition coalition stalled, clashes between security forces and opposition protesters in run-up to contested 20 Dec legislative elections left at least four people dead. Following govt ban on opposition protests, protesters clashed with security forces in several places, with many opposition supporters injured by gunshot wounds in capital Lomé and northern city of Sokodé; at least four people killed in protest-related violence 8-13 Dec, including twelve-year-old boy. Govt 12 Dec confirmed 20 Dec election date. Coalition of fourteen opposition parties boycotted vote citing irregularities and called for overhaul of electoral commission. President Gnassingbé’s party won most seats, according to provisional results released 31 Dec. Repeated opposition protests since Sept 2017 have called for Gnassingbé to resign, while mediation by West African regional bloc ECOWAS, launched April 2018, to facilitate dialogue between govt and opposition has been continuously delayed due to disagreement between parties.
Main opposition coalition 26 Nov said it would boycott 20 Dec general elections, alleging polls would be “fraudulent”, and held protest 29 Nov in main towns against irregularities in election process and called for further protest 1 Dec. Security Minister General Yark Damehame previous week warned against acts of violence seeking to upset campaigns and voting.
Electoral commission 18 Sept announced referendum on constitutional reforms would take place 16 Dec, without specifying reforms, and legislative and local elections scheduled for 20 Dec. Former MP 24 Sept went on hunger strike, calling for release of opposition supporters arrested during 2017 protests against govt.
After repeated opposition protests since Sept 2017 calling for President Gnassingbé to step down, summit of regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in capital Lomé late July proposed way forward, including electoral reforms and postponing legislative elections planned for Aug until 20 Dec. Opposition coalition 2 Aug expressed dissatisfaction with ECOWAS plan, especially that it does not prevent Gnassingbé standing for fourth term in 2020 presidential poll. Electoral commission 19 Aug published electoral calendar up to Dec vote, scheduling censuses for Oct, but opposition continued to demand recomposition of electoral commission. Govt late Aug adopted decree to create special force to secure electoral process.
Opposition resumed protests 11-14 April after four-week break, again called for protests 25-28 April. Police fired tear gas to disperse demonstrations in capital Lomé and other cities, several protesters reportedly wounded.
Talks between govt and opposition facilitated by Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo resumed 23 March after month-long pause; Akufo-Addo met first with ruling party and then with opposition.
After delays and another opposition protest 3 Feb, talks between govt and opposition coalition took place in capital Lomé 19 Feb facilitated by Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo. During talks, govt and opposition said they would suspend protests and, as confidence-building measure, govt said it would release 45 of 92 people detained for involvement in political demonstrations; 41 released by 23 Feb. Talks resumed briefly 23 Feb but made little progress, and were adjourned again for at least two weeks.
Amid ongoing anti-govt protests, following meeting between opposition representatives and mediator Guinean President Condé in Conakry 15-16 Jan, Condé said he had proposed govt and opposition meet 23-26 Jan for dialogue and that he would send mission to present opposition demands to President Gnassingbé. Opposition representatives 17 Jan met mediator Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo in Accra.
Opposition coalition continued protests calling for President Gnassingbé to step down throughout month in capital Lomé and other towns. Govt early Dec freed imams of Bafilo and Sokodé as well as some twenty people arrested for involvement in protests and invited political parties and figures for consultations 12 and 14 Dec on format of dialogue between govt and opposition. Some consultations took place, but opposition coalition rejected invitation, saying it would only take part in preparatory process mediated by Ghana and Guinea. Govt 18 Dec said ECOWAS regional bloc decided at summit 16 Dec not to designate foreign mediator.
Protests against rule of President Gnassingbé continued 7-9 and 16-18 Nov in capital Lomé and other major cities, protestors clashed with security forces less frequently than previous two months. Govt 4 Nov lifted ban on weekday protests, introduced 10 Oct. Govt 6 Nov said it would release 42 people arrested for involvement in protests. Delegation from Ghana 14 Nov met with opposition in Lomé to mediate crisis, but did not prevent opposition marches. Gnassingbé 20 Nov said dialogue with opposition could take place “in a few weeks”.
Clashes between security forces and citizens protesting against regime of President Gnassingbé continued as several attempts to launch dialogue between govt and opposition foundered. Arrest of imam close to opposition leader Tikpi Atchadam 16 Oct in Sokodé in centre triggered protests there and in other cities. Three people reportedly killed in Sokodé and one in Lomé 16-18 Oct in clashes with security forces. Hundreds of Togolese sought refuge in neighbouring Ghana. Govt 12 Oct formed electoral commission to oversee referendum by end of 2017 on govt-proposed constitutional reforms including limiting presidential terms to two. Opposition coalition continued to reject referendum, insisted on return to 1992 constitution that would prevent Gnassingbé running again and called for more protests. Opposition coalition 4 Oct rejected joint request by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union and UN to pursue reform through planned referendum and 10 Oct refused dialogue with International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) citing bias of delegation head; govt 23 Oct cancelled upcoming OIF ministerial conference. Attempts by political leaders in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to launch mediation between govt and opposition failed to take off. Delegation from West African Economic and Monetary Union consulted with political actors in Lomé 23-27 Oct. Heads of state of Togo, Niger, Ghana, Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire held mini summit on Togo 24 Oct during ECOWAS monetary conference. France 25 Oct called for “immediate dialogue” between govt and opposition.
Opposition parties and civil society groups led thousands in countrywide protests throughout month calling for President Gnassingbé to step down, reestablishment of presidential term limits and electoral reform; security forces dispersed crowds with live fire and tear gas, one boy reportedly killed in clashes in north 20 Sept. UN 9 Sept said govt must limit presidential terms to avoid political crisis. Opposition boycott 19 Sept prevented parliament passing draft law that would cap presidential term limits and reform electoral process, forcing govt to hold referendum on bill, vote will reportedly be held by end of 2017. Fourteen opposition parties 30 Sept called for new protests 4-5 Oct.
Army chief sacked 18 May and 18 soldiers charged in connection with Apr alleged coup plot. President Gnassingbe 27 May established truth commission to investigate bouts of political violence, including 2005 election clashes in which hundreds reportedly killed.
Brother of President, Kpatcha Gnassingbe arrested 15 Apr over alleged coup plot reportedly linked to succession battle ahead of 2010 elections. Followed gun battle at Kpatcha’s home 12 Apr that saw 3 killed. Another brother, Essolizam Gnassingbe and 9 soldiers detained. Togolese Army reaffirmed loyalty to President in 20 Apr statement.
Government signed elections accord with opposition Union of Forces for Change, ending 12-year stalemate. EU restored aid funding, suspended since 1993, after parties agreed to hold 2007 parliamentary elections with loosened voter eligibility requirements.
EU postponed mission to Lome to evaluate progress on democratic governance and respect for human rights, citing need for progress in political dialogue before any evaluation. UNHCR said more than 19,000 refugees from Togo still in exile after April 2005 violence.
National Commission of Inquiry report on April 2005 violence issued 10 November: stated 154 killed, 654 injured. Discrepancy in fatality figures with September UN report citing over 400 deaths. Government and opposition met in Rome to discuss political reform 11 November.
Faure Gnassingbé’s government marked first 100 days in office. President urged up to 40,000 refugees in neighbouring Benin and Ghana to return.
In first meeting since April, President Faure Gnassingbé and main opposition group leader Gilchrist Olympio agreed to end political violence and release political prisoners. Amnesty International said at least 150 people died in violence surrounding May elections; serious rights violations by security forces.
President Faure Gnassingbé rejected conditions of 5 opposition parties - not including Gilchrist Olympio’s UFC - for participation in coalition; appointed elder brother Kpatcha as defence minister and veteran “moderate” Edem Kodjo as PM.
Faure Gnassingbé inaugurated president 4 May, claiming 60% of vote in 24 April election; opposition claimed irregularities. Confidential EU report suggested up to 900,000 phantom voters; regional organisation ECOWAS accepted result while AU lifted sanctions. Nigerian President Obasanjo unable to craft government of national unity at Abuja meeting 19 May; 4 of 6 parties which backed opposition presidential candidate subsequently agreed to coalition talks with government 27 May, signalling split with Union of Forces of Change party led by exiled Gilchrist Olympio. Relative calm returned to Lomé by month-end, but opposition claimed nearly 300 killed in poll violence: Togolese government set up investigative task-force under former PM Joseph Koffigoh. UNHCR said at least 33,000 refugees had fled to neighbouring Benin and Ghana.
Faure Gnassingbé – son of longtime dictator Eyadema Gnassingbé – claimed 60% of votes in 24 April presidential elections. Opposition candidate Bob Akitani said poll was rigged and briefly pronounced himself president; criticized by regional ECOWAS body. Opposition claimed 100 killed by security forces in post-election rioting; 11,500 have fled Togo, according to UN. Gnassingbé call for “unity government” rejected by opposition; ECOWAS, Nigerian mediation ongoing.
Presidential elections set for 24 April; opposition criticised short time-frame. Having resigned from presidency February, coup-leader Faure Gnassingbé to run. Paris-based leader of opposition UFC, Gilchrist Olympio, barred by residency requirement; UFC vice-president, 75 year-old Emmanuel Akitani Bob, runner-up in 2003, picked as candidate of 6 opposition groups instead. Nephew of Gilchrist, said he would also stand, raising prospect of split opposition.
Fast-moving crisis sparked by Faure Gnassingbé’s unconstitutional seizure of power with army backing 6 February following death of father, General Gnassingbé Eyadema; parliament subsequently rubber-stamped coup. EU and U.S. criticised move; African Union suspended Togo; and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed sanctions. Having initially banned political rallies and said he would see out term until 2008, Gnassingbé accepted elections by April, then resigned, amidst strike actions and protestors’ march on Lomé, prompting ECOWAS to lift sanctions. Gnassingbé elected leader of ruling Rassemblement du peuple togolais 25 February; expected to run as candidate in elections.
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