AU observers officially deployed for Togo's March 4 elections

17:45, March 01, 2010      

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The African Union (AU) officially deployed its 40-observer mission on Sunday for Togo's March 4 presidential elections.

Declaring the deployment at a press conference held in a hotel in Lome, the Togolese capital, the mission said the team is made up of former heads of state, former presidents of electoral commissions, party leaders with election experience, members of the civil society and players in the human rights sector.

The team will be reinforced by four representatives from the Organization of American States under a cooperation program between the two continental blocs.

The head of the mission, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, termed the team as "solid, strong and serious," pledging it would be a group of impartial and alert observers with "a lot of experience" to be put to use.

"We are hoping for a successful election with results that reflect the wishes of the Togolese people," Obasanjo noted.

The mission will verify the preparations made by the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) to ensure an election which is "free, fair and transparent" and the process is handled in a peaceful way.

The March 4 polls will mark the end of the first term of outgoing Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe, who came to power after a hotly contested election in April 2005, following the death of his father and predecessor Gnassingbe Eyadema on Feb. 5, 2005.

Seven candidates including Faure are fielded in the race which is feared to have high stakes. For the first time, CENI is entrusted with the organization, supervision and announcement of the provisional results of the vote.

The AU observers have come to join the missions from the European Union and the 15-member Economic Community of West African States, which includes Togo.

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