The Catholic bishops of Togo have issued a Pastoral Letter adding their voice to calls for constitutional refom in the country and a return to the 1992 constitution that sets presidential term limits. In their just-released letter, the bishops urged for a return to that constitution to resolve the on-going crisis. “Constitutional reforms are of particular importance, without which it is impossible to bring peace and social cohesion in our country", said the bishops.
Thousands of people across the small West African nation have been demonstrating for term limits on President Faure Gnassingbe, who has been in power since his father died in 2005, after 38 years in power.
The protests began in August, when security forces killed at least two people and injured several others.
The government last week introduced a draft bill on constitutional reform in parliament in an effort to contain the growing anti-government protests.
The Episcopal Conference of Togo condemned the use of excessive force to quell the demonstrations as well as the incitement to ethnic hatred spread through social media. It called on the army to remain neutral "avoiding any intrusion into the political debate, in accordance with the Constitution". After urging political leaders, including the opposition, as well as ordinary citizens not to give in to the calls for violence, the Bishops concluded by inviting everyone to pray for peace.
In another development, the head of Togo's parliament said on Tuesday (19 Sept.) that the country will hold a referendum on presidential term limits and other constitutional reforms in the coming days after a government bill failed to get sufficient backing to become law,
(Source Fides, Reuters)