Lome, Nigeria (AFP) – Togo’s president has named Commerce Minister Kwesi Ahoomey-Zunu as the new prime minister to replace Gilbert Houngbo who resigned suddenly and without explanation on July 11.
The reshuffle comes amid a series of protests launched by a coalition of opposition parties and civil society groups, Let’s Save Togo, that have led to dozens of arrests.
“The president of the republic has nominated … Kwesi Ahoomey-Zunu as prime minister,” said a statement from the office of President Faure Gnassingbe read on national television late Thursday.
The 54-year-old Ahoomey-Zunu, a member of the opposition Patriotic Pan-African Convergence Party, was nominated to the post of commerce minister in March of last year.
He previously served as the head of the independent election body and oversaw polls in 2000 and legislative elections in 2002.
Despite the comings and goings at the prime minister’s office, the small west African nation has effectively been ruled by one family for four decades.
Gnassingbe took over the presidency in 2005 following the death of his father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled Togo for 38 years with an iron fist.
Last month, several thousand people gathered in the capital Lome to protest against changes to the electoral law which opposition members say were forced through by the dominant governing party.
Security forces broke up a demonstration on June 13 with tear gas, and the opposition claimed 119 people were wounded over two days.
Togo’s former colonial power France has condemned the violence and urged measures to ensure transparent and peaceful polls, which are expected to be held in October, although no date has yet been given.
Let’s Save Togo has argued that more time is needed for reforms to be carried out before the vote.