Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Constitutional reform in Togo 'urgent' - Parliament head



Lawmakers in Togo will begin to look at a constitutional reform bill from as soon as the end of this week, the head of the National Assembly said on Wednesday.

Parliamentary groups and commissions met to read the government proposals, which came after opposition calls for a two-term limit for presidents and a two-round voting system.

Opposition parties had hoped the bill would be on the agenda when lawmakers met for an extraordinary session on Tuesday, only to find it left off the day's order paper.

Consultation for constitutional reform risks being a drawn-out process but National Assembly president Dama Dramani said: "We are in an urgent situation.

"That's why we are going to disregard our procedures to end the (current parliamentary) session tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday we will look at the government's bill," he added.

Dramani called on the constitutional law commission that examines proposed changes to look at the bill and make its recommendations as quickly as possible.

On Monday, he had told state television that a proper debate on constitutional reform could not be held at short notice.

The main opposition National Alliance for Change (ANC) said constitutional change was the only issue the public wanted to talk about.

"We need to discuss, study and adopt the bill... as the Togolese people want," said ANC lawmaker Isabelle Ameganvi.

Togo's opposition has been calling for changes for more than a decade. Last week, hundreds of thousands took to the streets across the country calling for reform.

Faure Gnassingbe has been president since 2005 after taking over from his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who assumed power in 1967.

AFP
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