Togo releases 119 people detained during protests
Togo's security minister said yesterday authorities have released 119 people who were detained during this week's rallies organised by an opposition coalition that led to clashes between police and demonstrators.
At the same time eight people were held in custody, the minister, colonel Damehane Yark, said in a statement.
The coalition Let's Save Togo said more than 100 people were injured and 125 arrested during the rallies last Tuesday and Wednesday that were dispersed by police with tear gas, with some demonstrators throwing rocks and burning tyres in response.
"We still do not know if 119 people have actually been released, but we can say that some of our supporters who were detained have been freed," Pedro Amuzu, a member of the coalition told AFP, adding he would know more on Monday.
According to the ministry's statement, 119 people "without identification" were detained overnight August 21 to 22 during an "identity check operation", but were released on Friday after "detailed verifications".
The operation was launched because some people had "their motorbikes taken by rowdy protesters" in the city of Lome, the statement said.
The eight people still in custody were arrested carrying knives, and would be referred to the prosecutor, the statement added.
Let's Save Togo has announced plans to hold further marches followed by sit-ins at the independence square in Lome next week, setting up another potential showdown with the authorities who have previously ruled out demonstrations in prominent areas.
Protesters have been seeking a delay in parliamentary elections to allow reforms to first take place, as well as the repeal of changes to electoral laws that they say the government pushed through.
Let's Save Togo's coordinator Zeus Ajavon on Thursday called for an end to President Faure Gnassingbe's government and urged Togolese to "disobey and organise".
While the elections are expected to be held in October, no date has been set.
Togo has been run by the same family for more than four decades. Gnassingbe Eyadema ruled the country for 38 years with an iron fist until his death in 2005.
Shortly after his death was announced, the military installed his son Faure Gnassingbe as president. He has since won elections in 2005 and 2010.