Togo, Feb 4 – Togo’s presidential election will be held in mid-April, a minister said Tuesday, clarifying a constitutional court ruling on the date of the vote.
The cabinet is expected to set the date based on proposals from the national election commission, the minister for territorial administration, Gilbert Balawa, told AFP.
A statement from Togo’s constitutional court on Monday was interpreted to mean that voting had to take place no later than March 5, a timeline that opposition leader Jean-Pierre Fabre said was “materially impossible to respect”.
But on Tuesday, the court issued a second statement to clarify that in fact only the date of the election had to be set by March 5.
President Faure Gnassingbe’s government then announced that the vote would be held by mid-April.
Gnassingbe has been in power since the 2005 death of his father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled with an iron fist for 38 years.
The opposition has been pushing for a change to the country’s constitution to limit a president to two, five-year terms. There is currently no limit.
Lawmakers are currently debating a constitutional reform bill that would bar the 48-year-old head of state from seeking re-election for a third term. He has not yet declared his candidacy.
A first draft of the bill was rejected in June by parliament, which is dominated by the president’s ruling Rally of the Togolese People.
The situation in Togo is slightly different to some other African nations where presidents have tried, and often succeeded, in rewriting their countries’ constitutions to get rid of term limits.
However, it does follow a pattern of resistance in some African countries of allowing their leaders to stay in power indefinitely.
Protests gripped the Democratic Republic of Congo over recent weeks after opposition saw an election law as a way for President Joseph Kabila to extend his term in office.
Burkina Faso’s president Blaise Compaore was chased from power last year when he tried to change the constitution to extend his 27-year rule.