Map used courtesy of Nations Online Project
For half a century, Togo has been ruled by one party and one family. But in the past few years, the people of the West African nation have made one thing clear: they are ready for change. Tomorrow, after multiple delays, months of protests, and the threat of a boycott, citizens will take their discontent to the polls as they vote in legislative elections.
On the Human Rights Channel, we’ve been tracking protests in Togo about everything from student fees to media censorship and repression of opposition that have shaken President Faure Gnassingbé’s control of the country. Earlier this year the government imprisoned more than two dozen members of the opposition, tightened press freedom, and responded to protests with teargas and rubber bullets as seen in our playlist from March:
Through it all, national elections—originally scheduled for last October—were delayed, as opposition activists demanded changes to electoral policy that would make the process more fair and transparent. On July 11th, the government and the opposition forces signed an agreement in the presence of the US ambassador that called for the release of hundreds of prisoners, extended the filing deadline for potential candidates, and delayed elections four days. However, outstanding issues about the fairness and transparency of the democratic process remain.
Our new playlist compiles videos mainly from two citizen news outlets, Togo Visions and Le Togo VI, that have documented the political turmoil, and who interview politicians as well as regular citizens about their thoughts on the election. All videos are primarily in French.
We’ll be monitoring the election over the next week, and will add new citizen video to the playlist as it becomes available.