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Togo’s opposition leader to face questioning after contesting election result

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Togo’s opposition leader to face questioning after contesting election result

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Photo: AFP

Togolese opposition leader Agbeyome Kodjo is set to be heard today by the country’s internal criminal investigations department.

The government has charged Kodjo with undermining national security. It points to his contestation of the February 22 presidential election results, which saw incumbent Faure Gnassingbe, who has occupied the office since 2005, secure 70% of the vote.

Gnassingbe, whose family has ruled Togo since 1967, passed legislation that limits the president to two five-year terms. However, the change does not account for his previous three terms in office, effectively extending his potential to rule until 2030.

The constitutional amendment in Togo copies a trend of West African leaders undermining what is considered the continent’s most democratically stable region. Following a similar stunt by neighbouring Benin last year, expect these events to spell trouble for countries facing presidential elections later this year, namely Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire in October.

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Incumbents may be emboldened to extend their tenures or opposition candidates could claim election fraud after suffering a loss, presenting a major risk of regional political violence. In any case, the erosion of democratic norms in West Africa would likely dissuade the EU from pursuing certain regional investment projects with the African Union, potentially costing billions in developmental aid and infrastructure investment.

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