January 9, 2015 / 8:46 PM / 5 years ago

Togo opposition fails in bid to stop president running in 2015 election

LOME (Reuters) - Togo’s opposition has failed to persuade the ruling party to support a two-term presidential limit that would prevent President Faure Gnassingbé running for office again, party leaders said on Friday.

Gnassingbé was installed as president with army support when his father, who had been in power for 38 years, died in 2005.

Talks to change the constitution that began at the National Assembly on Monday broke down on Wednesday, the party leaders said, blaming each other.

Gnassingbé is expected to run and win a third five-year term in elections set to take place in the first half of this year, although he is yet to announce his candidacy.

Pressure from other West African nations forced him to step down in 2005 but he won an election months later and was re-elected for a second term in 2010.

“The three days of talks we have just had with our parliamentary colleagues in the majority didn’t move a single step forward,” the president of the main opposition National Alliance for Change, Isabelle Améganvi, said.

The two sides only discussed the first point on the agenda which was the distribution of natural resources in the West African coastal nation of 7 million and even on that point there was no agreement, she told Reuters.

Few were surprised by the breakdown of the talks.

The parliamentary head of ruling Union for the Republic, Christophe Tchao, accused the opposition of procedural obstacles and time wasting, reasons he cited for the failure of the talks.

“It’s just a suspension (of the talks). The day that the positions will change, I think that the work will start again. But the ... (opposition) needs to be more realistic,” he said.

Togo changed its constitution in 2002 to abolish presidential term limits and a further reform would require the assent of four fifths of the National Assembly’s 91 deputies, 62 of whom belong to the ruling party.

Civil society groups said they would march next Tuesday to oppose what they said was Gnassingbé’s plan for two more terms.

Security forces in the capital fired tear gas in November to break up an opposition march for presidential term limits.

Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Louise Ireland

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