LOME (Reuters) - Police in Togo fired tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse thousands of opposition protesters in the capital Lome on Tuesday, as tensions over upcoming legislative elections boiled over.
Youths burned tyres and threw rocks in cat-and-mouse clashes with security forces in the gritty coastal city, and at least one protester was struck by a rubber bullet and carried away, according to a Reuters witness.
Opposition leaders organised the protest march to try to press demands for reform ahead of a parliamentary election in October, defying a government ban on demonstrations in commercial centres.
It was the latest in a series of violent protests in the West African state, a former French colony with a history of tough crackdowns on dissent, since June, and was called by the opposition-led “Save Togo” campaign.
The opposition says the country’s constituency boundaries, which were redrawn in May, favour the ruling party and is challenging a move to increase the number of seats in parliament to 91 from 81.
Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe came to power in disputed and violent elections in 2005 after the death of his father, who had run the country for nearly four decades. He was re-elected to a second term in 2010 in a poll marred by opposition complaints of fraud and intimidation.