The death toll has risen to nine following weekend protests in Togo that brought hundreds of protesters into the streets railing against President Faure Gnassingbé.
The fatalities, two civilians and seven security personnel, occurred in Sokodé, according to Ghana News Agency. There were multiple injuries and many people detained as police and security personnel met the protesters with tear gas and, in some reported cases, live fire. Activists in Togo claim that some who were arrested have been tortured.
The demonstrations began Friday following an appeal from opposition political leader Tikpi Atchadam and his Parti National Panafricain (PNP) for Togolese to unite in favor of democratically conducted elections. The country has been led by the current president since 2005, after he followed in the footsteps of a father who ruled from 1967 until his death.
The protesters want constitutional limits to be enforced, and to put an end to a half-century of family rule. They also emphasized human rights concerns, including the right to free speech and assembly. The human rights situation in the small West African nation, home to some seven million people, is described by Amnesty International Togo Director Aime Adi as fragile.
“We still see the use of the army to police peaceful demonstrations with deaths of protesters,” he said in a July interview, adding that there is intimidation of opposition figures and banning activities of opposition parties.
The protests also were held in the capital city of Lomé, as well as Anié, Bafilo and Kara. Lomé remained tense on Sunday; although much of Togo was calm, opposition activists say they plan to continue to demand reforms.