Mobile internet shut-off in Togo as opposition protests

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A man holds up a sign, which reads: "Faure must go", during an opposition protest calling for the immediate resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe in Lome, Togo.

LOME, Togo – 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 wifi access in the capital, Lome, users called for services to be restored.

READ: Two broadcasters shut down in Togo 

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.

READ: Hundreds of thousands of Togolese protest for reform 

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.