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Mobile internet off in Togo before opposition protests

Protesters carry placards while they march shouting slogans as they call for reforms during an anti-government rally in Lome on September 6, 2017. Hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters have protested across Togo calling for constitutional reform, despite an apparent government concession to their demands. Amnesty International country head Aime Adi told AFP “at least 100,000” were in the capital, Lome, with similar demonstrations taking place in some 10 other cities. Opposition party leader Jean-Pierre Fabre for his part called the demonstration “unprecedented” and estimated that “more than one million people” were on the streets of Lome./ AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

Mobile internet services were off in Togo on Thursday, where new opposition protests were planned after huge anti-government demonstrations across the country.

On social media such as Facebook and Twitter, which were still accessible using intermittent Wi-Fi access in the capital, Lome, users called for services to be restored.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Internet Without Borders group called the shutdown “an attack on Togolese citizens’ freedom of expression online”.

Amnesty International’s Togo director, Aime Adi, told AFP by telephone that the internet and mobile phone networks were completely off on Thursday in several cities in northern Togo.

Information minister Gilbert Bawara told several local radio stations on Wednesday evening that the government reserved the right to impose restrictions on access to the internet.

Amnesty’s Adi estimated that at least 100,000 opposition supporters marched against the government in Lome and several other cities across the country on Wednesday.

Other opposition figures put the number at one million.

The demonstrators want constitutional reform, including a limit on presidential mandates to two, five-year terms, and a two-round voting system.

The current president, Faure Gnassingbe, took over in 2005 after the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who came to power following a coup in 1967.

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