Muhammadu Buhari, president of Nigeria, on Thursday, February 8, 2018, warned about the dangers of political unrest as he met the new envoy from Togo, where there has been a wave of anti-government protests.
Buhari did not specifically make mention of Togo as he received the newly appointed ambassador, Lene Dimban, at the presidential villa in the capital, Abuja.
The West African bloc ECOWAS was working “to prevent political transitions from snowballing into crisis so that citizens in the region can focus their energies and resources rather than trying to survive political upheavals”, he was quoted as saying.
Buhari became president in 2015 in a peaceful handover of power after becoming the first opposition candidate in Nigerian history to defeat a sitting president. Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe has faced an almost weekly round of anti-government protests since late August last year, calling for political change and for his resignation.
A coalition of 14 opposition parties wants the introduction of a two-term limit for presidents, in line with the majority of countries in the region. Gnassingbe has been in power since 2005 and is now in his third term of office, after taking over as president from his father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, who himself ruled Togo for 38 years.
The opposition wants the limit on presidential mandates to be retroactive, to prevent Gnassingbe standing for re-election in 2020 and 2025. Mediators from Ghana and Guinea have announced that talks will take place between the two sides in Togo’s capital, Lome, on February 15. But neither the government nor the opposition has fully confirmed its attendance.