Social media and internet disruption in an attempt to prevent opposition protest
Reports indicate that access to social media has been disrupted since 5th September in Togo. At the time of writing, access to social media platforms such as Whatsapp and Facebook are limited, while internet speed has been considerably reduced. The disruption to communication channels has come as opposition planned to protest on 6th September over the police brutality and use of excessive force at an opposition protest calling for presidential term limits held on 19th August that led to several deaths, injuries and arrests of protesters, as previously reported on the Monitor. The anti-Gnassingbé protests on 6th September drew thousands in the capital Lomé and in centres close to the capital, such as Be’ and Agoe.
On 30th August, fifteen anti-government protesters were simultaneously given prison sentences in Lomé, Atakpamé et Kara that ranged between five and nine months for “damaging public property” during the 19th August protests, organised by the opposition party Parti National Panafricain (PNP). The Secretary-General of PNP, Dr. Kossi Sama, was sentenced to 18 months, with 9 months suspended. A day before the sentence was issued, Togo’s Prime Minister Selorm Klassouled held a pro-government rally and was joined by state functionaries and supporters of the ruling RTP party. The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding has called on the international community to keep a close eye on Togo and to prevent the ongoing unrest from degenerating into a full-scale conflict.