Togo lifts suspension on foreign journalists

Togo authorities said they will lift a suspension on accreditations for foreign journalists imposed in April after a highly contested constitutional reform.

The High Authority for Audiovisual and Communication suspended accreditations before legislative elections that saw President Faure Gnassingbe’s ruling party extend his family’s political dynasty.

HAAC had said the suspension was because of “serious failures” in the coverage of Togo’s politics by French media and issues with a French journalist who was expelled from Togo.

“The suspension of the accreditation of foreign press organisations for the coverage of news and demonstrations in Togo is lifted as of Wednesday, June 26,” HAAC said in a statement issued late Friday.

Reporters Without Borders had denounced the suspension as a violation of freedom of information.

Gnassingbe’s Union for the Republic (UNIR) party won 108 of the 113 parliament seats in the election in the small West African state.

Under the constitutional reform, the presidency becomes a largely ceremonial post elected by lawmakers. Power shifts to a new president of the council of ministers. That position will automatically be taken by the head of the ruling party, in this case, Gnassingbe as the UNIR leader.

It means Gnassingbe can regain the post every six years if his party maintains a parliamentary majority. Critics called the reform an “institutional coup” tailored for Gnassingbe to evade term limits on his presidency.


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