There is rising tension in Togo as the West African country prepares for another presidential election on Saturday, February 22, 2020.
Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe is all but certain to win a fourth term at the ballot on Saturday and has changed the constitution to allow himself potentially to stay in charge until 2030.
The Gnassingbe family has dominated the tiny West African state for more than half a century.
As the D-day approaches, Sokode, the second-largest city in Togo, is still under lockdown with more than ten people killed lately in a wild protest demanding that the 53-year-old leader, who took over power in 2005 after the death of his father, should leave the office.
Trucks filled with armed soldiers continually patrol the main streets and residents complain of searches in their homes, beatings, and a nightly curfew.
The neighbourhood of Kpalo-Kpalo, one of the former strongholds of the opposition Panafrican National Party, was surrounded by troops.
Activists from the party, which drew a lot of support from the mainly Muslim Tem ethnic group, said a ruthless crackdown by security forces means they can now only meet in secret.
Their leader, Tipki Atchadam, has fled Togo and is currently hiding in neighbouring Ghana.
Gnasssingbe promised to create 500,000 jobs across the country by 2022 to ease the frustrations of a large number of unemployed youths in the country.
But after 53 years of his family’s rule, the signs of neglect and stunted development are evident to see around Sokode.