Togo Opposition Cries Foul After Gnassingbé Victory in Presidential Poll

Togo Opposition Cries Foul After Gnassingbé Victory in Presidential Poll

By Michel Arseneault

The opposition in Togo says the presidential election at the weekend was marred by ballot-stuffing as partial results indicate President Faure Gnassingbé is set to win by a wide margin.

Gnassingbé onTuesday looked poised to win a third term, with 69 per cent of the vote against almost 18 per cent for Jean-Pierre Fabre of the opposition coalition Combat for Political Change (Cap2015).

The opposition is alleging that the number of ballots cast was higher than registered voters in “many” polling stations, according to a Fabre adviser, Marcus Kodjo.

“No equity, no transparency, corruption, something unbelievable,” he said in a phone interview from Lomé, the Togolese capital, adding that “many” people could not find their names on voter lists.

Other opposition parties had called for a boycott and voter turnout appears low at 55 per cent in comparison with the previous presidential poll in 2010.

“The Togolese people as a whole are fed up with these electoral masquerade,” said Claude Amengavi, the president of the Workers’ Party, which had called on its supporters to refrain from voting.

The African Union, which sent observers to monitor the election, concluded that voters had been allowed “to choose their president… freely and in transparency”.

Amos Sawyer, the head of an election team sent by west African regional bloc Ecowas said on Sunday the vote had overall been “free, transparent and organised in an acceptable manner”.

Workers’ Party leader Amengavi slammed their assessment.

 “The African Union is a syndicate of African dictators so we are not surprised that they are taking such a position,” he remarked. “They take that position every time an election is held in Togo.”

The divided and fractious opposition’s reaction was predictable, according to Kamissa Camara, a National Endowment for Democracy specialist who travelled to Lomé with other AU experts to prepare Saturday’s election.

“I met with every single opposition party leader and already most of them knew that were going to lose the elections,” she said in a phone interview from Washington. “They were already trying to find excuses to justify their loss.”

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