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Togo Elections

Togo incumbent re-elected for fourth term, opposition alleges fraud

Gnassingbé leaves a polling station after casting his vote in Kara on 22 February 2020.
Gnassingbé leaves a polling station after casting his vote in Kara on 22 February 2020. Photo: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP

Provisional election results declared on Sunday night by Togo’s electoral commission have handed incumbent President Faure Gnassingbé a fourth term in office, although opposition parties accuse the ruling party of electoral fraud.

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“In light of all the centralised results based on the tallies obtained, the candidate of the Union for the Republic (UNIR), Mr Gnassingbé Essozimna Faure, is provisionally declared president-elect of the Togolese republic,” said Tchambakou Ayassor, the president of the National Independent Electoral Commission, after having announced results for the country’s 46 constituencies.

Faure Gnassingbé secured more than 72 per cent of the vote in the first round of the presidential vote, 14 per cent more than for the 2015 election. The turnout was measured at more than 76 per cent, compared to 61 per cent in 2015. It was also the first time Togo’s electoral commission declared presidential election results within 24 hours of voting.

Opposition leader and former prime minister Agbéyomé Kodjo took around 18 per cent of the vote and Jean-Pierre Fabre, leader of the opposition National Alliance for Change (ANC) party, came in third with just over 5 per cent, according to the electoral commission. The election results have been shared with Togo’s constitutional court which has six days to formally declare definitive results.

“We see that Faure Gnassingbé has had a big breakthrough in areas that in days gone by were difficult, and in other areas it was a true plebiscite,” said Gilbert Bawara, the minister of civil service and Gnassingbé supporter.

Opposition decries fraud, claims victory

The results had already been contested with civil society describing ballot box stuffing and the reversal of results. Opposition leader Kodjo on Saturday night denounced “much fraud” even before the electoral commission announced provisional results. And the opposition leader told a press conference in Lomé that he was undoubtedly the winner of the polls.

“Across the nation voters have largely voted for me,” said Kodjo. “With regards to the results we’ve compiled by way of the tallies in our possession, we have won this presidential election of 22 February 2020 in the first round, with a result oscillating between 57 and 61 per cent. At this very minute, I’m president of the republic democratically elected and I commit myself to form an inclusive government in the coming days,” he added.

Kodjo also said he “congratulates Faure Gnassingbé on becoming the first living former president of the republic in history”. Togo was previously ruled by Gnassingbé Eyadema, Faure’s father, who stayed in power for 38 years until his death. The opposition leader invited the president-elect to transfer power in the spirit of “renewed patriotic fervour” and in a peaceful manner.

Kodjo also called on the international community to “support the Togolese people in their fight for a calm and peaceful change in power”, he encouraged the “defence and security forces to maintain their republican neutrality and not give in to being exploited”. He also said the incumbent “must take account of the gravity of the situation and take his place in history by accepting his defeat”.

The opposition leader’s house was surrounded by security forces on Saturday night shortly after the end of voting. Yark Damehane, Togo’s security minister, said the measures were for the security of Kodjo to safeguard against “probable assault” following intelligence they had received.

Gnassingbé faced widespread demonstrations in 2017 and 2018 calling for an end to his family’s rule. A crackdown on protests including internet shutdown helped Gnassingbé survive the demonstrations and in May 2019 his government voted in a change to Togo’s constitution potentially enabling him to remain in office until 2030.

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