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Keeping a grip on the presidencies

Oppositionists say a constitutional reform which will allow parliament to appoint a council president is a ploy that will allow Gnassingbé to retain power

President Faure Gnassingbé appears certain to strengthen his grip on power, whether or not that means staying on as head of state (AC Vol 61 No 5, Democratic, for a dynast).

Togolese lawmakers last week adopted a law that will transfer many presidential powers to a new role of council president, who will lead the government and be chosen by parliament. The presidency meanwhile will be subject to term limits for a maximum of two four-year stints, compared to the current five-year terms with no term limits.

However, the new law does not take into account the almost two decades Gnassingbé has already been in power, sparking concern that he's seeking to extend his family's more than 50-year long rule of Togo (AC Vol 65 No 8, Faure lobbies Washington).

Oppositionists believe Gnassingbé wants to take the new council president position. Alternatively, he could seek to stay on as president at elections scheduled for next year, and could stay in power until 2033.

A key test will be parliamentary elections, scheduled for 20 April, which have now been pushed to 29 April following public protests against the new law.



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