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Thursday, 24 June 2021

Calls to release Togo opposition leader Djimon Ore intensify

Djimon Ore, president of the Front for Patriots of Democracy (FPD) party and a former communications minister, was detained at his house in the capital Lome

AFP , Thursday 6 May 2021
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Togolese opposition parties and civil society groups called Thursday for the release of a former minister arrested last week.

Djimon Ore, president of the Front for Patriots of Democracy (FPD) party and a former communications minister, was detained at his house in the capital Lome.

'Ore was detained on April 29. He was placed under a detention warrant,' prosecutor Essolissam Poyodi told AFP without giving further details.

No charges against him have been made public but sources close to his party say Ore was accused of making defamatory comments.

Ore's comments last month on Togo's 61st independence anniversary criticising President Faure Gnassingbe and his father may be those at issue.

'The toll, in terms of blood spilt, in terms of citizens killed the military oligarch clan of the Gnassingbe is much worse than in Rwanda where we speak of genocide,' Ore said.

The sources said Ore has also been accused of attempted aggravated disturbance of public order and offences against public authorities.

Ore has not responded to any accusations against him.

His detention is making waves in the country where Gnassingbe was reelected for a fourth term in February last year.

'He just spoke freely, in accordance with the right to free expression and opinion guaranteed by the constitution,' said one opposition party, the National Alliance for Change (ANC).

'The majority of Togolese people do not think differently, even if they don't say it.'

David Dosseh, spokesman of the FCTD coalition civil society groups, said dissidents can no longer speak out.

'Those that speak too loudly risk being caught by a justice system that has become an instrument of government repression,' he said.

Ore's arrest is an 'affront to freedom of opinion and a violation of the charter regulating political parties,'said the DMK coalition of opposition parties.

In November last year, two DMK members were detained in Lome, accused of being a 'threat to internal security'. They were released on bail in December.

Gnassingbe was first elected in 2005, taking over after the death of his father General Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled the impoverished West African state for 38 years.

The last election was marked by accusations of fraud and an amendment to the constitution enabling the president to run for two extra terms.

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