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Protesters defy demonstration ban, clash with police

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-03-09

Togolese police have dispersed groups of young men who gathered in protest at the re-election of President Faure Gnassingbe, despite an earlier government ban on demonstrations that ratcheted up tensions in the wake of Thursday's disputed poll.

AFP - Baton-wielding riot police fired teargas Tuesday to break up a banned opposition march protesting the result of Togo's presidential election, won by incumbent Faure Gnassingbe.
   
Police set up roadblocks in the Togolese capital's working-class Be district that is home to the headquarters of the Union of Forces for Change (UFC) headed by main opposition candidate Jean-Pierre Fabre ahead of the rally.
   
Some 6,000 gendarmes and police fanned out across Lome before the march.
   
When a 400-strong crowd -- comprising mainly youths -- started their march, police and gendarmes fired teargas prompting some of the protestors to throw bricks at them.
   
"We want change, we want a new president," the youths shouted.
   
"As soon as I arrived, many youths gathered around my car. The security forces started

FRANCE 24's Christopher Moore reports from Lomé, Togo

to fire teargas and the protesters ran in all directions. We then left," said Fabre after the crowd was dispersed.
   
Fabre has refused to recognise his defeat and claimed that Gnassingbe, who was first put in power in 2005 by the military upon the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had ruled for 38 years, won the election by fraud.
   
The government on Monday banned the opposition's planned demonstration against the result of the March 4 vote, amid mounting unease after clashes at the last presidential election left hundreds dead.
   
On Tuesday, a group of around 200 youths defied police and gathered on one of Be's main streets.
   
"43 years is too much! Our country isn't a kingdom or an inheritance," said one of them, 22-year-old Agbe Gnaglo.
   
Armed riot police on Sunday violently put down a demonstration by more than 200 opposition supporters, while Fabre himself was forced to take shelter in the UFC headquarters.

Date created : 2010-03-09

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