Togo's outgoing President Gnassingbe reelected amid appeals for calm

12:39, March 07, 2010      

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Togo's outgoing President Faure Gnassingbe was reelected in Thursday's polls amid appeals for calm and continued observation by monitors to follow the post-vote situation in the West African country, which was hit by violence in the 2005 elections.

File photo shows that Togo's incumbent President Faure Gnassingbe (L) arrives at the meeting hall to attend the second day meeting of 13th African Union (AU) Summit in Sirte, Libya, on July 2, 2009. Togo's outgoing President Faure Gnassingbe has won the presidential elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) announced on March 6, 2010. (Xinhua/Zhang Ning)

The 43-year-old incumbent heading the ruling Assembly of Togolese People (RPT) won 1.24 million of the votes counted, or 60. 9 percent of the total, according to the provisional results read Saturday night by Taffa Tabiou, president of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).

His closest rival Jean-Pierre Fabre, 58, the candidate of the leading opposition United Forces for Change (UFC), attained more than 690,000 votes, or 33.94 percent.

The five other candidates had the rest of the votes, including the country's first female contender Kafui Adjamgbo-Johnson of the Democratic Convention for African People (CDPA), who gained 0. 66 percent of the votes.

The turnout reached 64.68 percent of an estimated 2,040,546 eligible voters.

Tensions are still high in the aftermath of the conflicting claims by both camps of the leading candidates, ahead of the official publication of the provisional results.

On Friday, Fabre declared that he had won the election with the support of 75 percent to 89 percent of the votes counted, while the pro-government website said Faure took the lead of 63 percent based on 68 percent of the votes cast.

The claims sparked fears of conflict after a calm vote on Thursday. The opposition parties said they had found "irregularities" in the election process, warning that Faure might rig the election. The presidential camp denounced Fabre for claiming a victory in advance in violation of the election rule.

The exchange of rhetoric smacks of deadly clashes in the 2005 polls, which were held following the death of Gnassingbe Eyadema, Faure's father who had ruled Togo for 38 years.

A report of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said 400 to 500 people were killed and thousands of others injured. The Togolese government said in its own report that 154 people died and 654 others were injured.

The violence also forced an estimated 40,000 Togolese refugees to flee to neighboring Benin and Ghana.

Just hours before the publication of the provisional results, EU observers declared that they would stay several weeks in Togo to follow the post-election developments. The EU mission also denied charges of partiality after the results were made known.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday called upon Togo's political leaders and their supporters to keep calm and restraint.

A statement issued by Ban's spokesman said the secretary- general "calls for the same calm and restraint during this period as that which was witnessed on voting day."

The Togolese government issued a communique on Saturday night, calling on its 6.5 million people to maintain "calm" and not to go "panic."

The provisional results are yet to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court.

To ensure the election is violence free, large numbers of monitors were deployed to follow the process, including 3,300 national observers, 130 from the European Union, 40 from the African Union and 250 from the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

ECOWAS is paying special attention to the polls, hoping to see a success in Togo to check the dangerous trend of coups, which have hit Mauritania, Guinea and Niger in West Africa since 2008.

Togo holds a high stake in an happy ending of the vote, which puts the country's democracy to test. The country needs another success after holding the legislative elections peacefully in 2007.

The country deployed 6,000 officers on the ground to ensure security for the elections. Among other precautionary measures, Togo closed its land frontier at midnight Wednesday till midnight Friday.

Source: Xinhua
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