A nine-year-old boy was killed in Togo on Wednesday after security officers clashed with anti-government protesters.
Protests against the reign of President Faure Gnassingbe began in August and have since spread throughout the West African country. The demonstrations had largely been peaceful until Wednesday, when soldiers fired live ammunition to disperse protesters in Mango, hundreds of kilometers north of Lome, the country’s capital.
“There was a nine-year-old boy killed in Mango by military forces,” said Francois Patuel of Amnesty International. “He was shot in the head.”
Clashes between protesters and Gnassingbe supporters broke out in Bailo, injuring several persons.
Tensions between protesters and the government heightened on Tuesday after the opposition National Pan-African Party (PNP) boycotted a parliamentary vote that would have imposed a two-term limit on the president. Opposition party members said the proposed bill was a ruse intended to allow Mr. Gnassingbe to rule until 2030.
If the bill proposed by the ruling party passed, Mr. Gnassingbe, who is currently serving his third term, would be eligible to run in both the 2020 and 2025 elections. BBC News reported that the opposition party is seeking to revive a paragraph in the 1992 constitution that limits the president to two terms.
Mr. Gnassingbe assumed power in 2005 after his father, who had ruled the country since 1967, died. He was re-elected in 2010 and 2015.
Due to the boycott, the bill will be decided by a referendum rather than parliamentary vote.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters, however, want Mr. Gnassingbe to step down now.
“The referendum is not what we want,” Paulin Kossi, a protester, told Reuters. “We are asking for the president to leave.”
Since protests have gained momentum, the government has restricted internet and 3G data access.
Protests from both anti- and pro-government factions are expected to continue on Thursday.