Faure Gnassingbe. Picture: EPA/LEGNAN KOULA
Faure Gnassingbe. Picture: EPA/LEGNAN KOULA

Lome — The government of Togo insists parliamentary elections will take place later in December, despite an opposition boycott and deadly violence.

“The electoral process is irreversible and the ballot will be held on December 20 2018,” said the minister of civil service Gilbert Bawara.

A coalition of 14 opposition parties has said it will not take part, citing irregularities in preparations and calling for an overhaul of the electoral commission. It called for 10 days of protest in the run-up to the vote but the government banned the action on security grounds.

Bawara expressed regret at violence between opposition supporters and security forces on Saturday and on Monday that officially left four dead. The opposition said six died.

But he denounced “certain political leaders” that openly “incite [the population] to attacks and attacks on police”.

“No government can accept that a political party or group of parties seeks to block the country and create disorder and chaos,” he said.

Togo has seen a wave of opposition protests since 2017calling for a limit to the number of presidential terms and a two-round voting system.

The demonstrations have also called for the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe, who has been in power since 2005, after taking over from his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema.

Gnassingbe senior ruled Togo for 38 years.

On Thursday, the UN, EU,and the embassies of the US,France and Germany said that they werefollowing the situation in Togo “with concern”.

“They regret the deaths and the violence,” said the statement, and “await the results of the investigations announced by the government” following the last demonstrations. “They underline the need to preserve a climate of peace and avoid all forms of violence,” the statement added.

Talks between the opposition and the government for a way out of the crisis are stalled, but Bawara said there was "no prospect" of regional bloc the Economic Commission of West African States (Ecowas) meeting to discuss Togo.

Rumours of an extraordinary summit were “a vast manipulation of spirits, misinformation and intoxication”, he said.

On the elections, he said Ecowas states were closely monitoring the process. “The observation missions will be deployed in the field this week.”