LOME/JERUSALEM. – The Israeli Foreign Ministry says an Israel-Africa summit scheduled for next month in Togo has been postponed. In a statement yesterday, the ministry said the decision had come at the request of Togo’s president, Faure Gnassingbe, after consultations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It said talks would continue “to guarantee the full success of the summit.”
The statement gave no reason for the decision. But Togo has been experiencing unrest in recent days, with thousands of protesters demanding presidential term limits amid anger over the 50-year rule of the Gnassingbe family.
Israeli and African leaders, business leaders and security experts are scheduled to participate in the summit.
Netanyahu has made outreach to Africa a key component of his foreign policy. Meanwhile, authorities in Togo have restored Internet connectivity almost a week after it was cut. Mobile data was cut on September 5, hours to a planned opposition protest.
The government made it a total blackout after truncating Wi-Fi access the following day as the protests kicked off. The opposition in the West African country are demanding that the president steps down.
An activist, Farida Nabourema, confirmed the restoration of connection on Sunday (September 10). “The government of Togo has just restored Internet services. It was a six days blackout and it took advantage of it to repress us massively,” she said. Other Internet users corroborated the account.
A two day protest last week extended into a third day when opposition activists took to the streets of the capital Lome and other major towns. Aside from demands that Faure Gnassingbe steps down, they are calling for wide political reforms.
Among others, the revision of the 1992 Constitution which was modified in 2002 allowing Faure to run for an unlimited term.
The opposition says they want the original two five-year term limit to be restored, a two-ballot system, reform of the Constitutional Court and the Electoral Commission.
Faure Gnassingbe has been in power for 12 years now. His current mandate secured in 2015 runs till 2020. He took over after his father Gnassingbe Eyadema. – AP/Africa News.