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» 03.11.2009 - Togo gets first direct EU grant
» 14.09.2009 - New pan-African rice centre adopted
» 23.12.2008 - Togo gets finance for its 100 MW electricity project
» 07.10.2008 - Lome based African Commercial Bank gets boost from ECP
» 19.05.2008 - Togo optimistic on economic recovery
» 03.12.2007 - EU lifts Togo ban
» 14.11.2007 - Togo benefits EU grants
» 22.12.2006 - Togo receives first EU funds in years

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Economy - Development | Politics

EU not to send election observers to Togo

afrol News, 8 March - The European Union (EU) will not send election observers to the 24 April presidential poll in Togo. The EU states that there is not enough time to prepare for such a mission, and Togolese authorities fear that this again could complicate relations with Brussels.

According to information released by the Togolese government today, EU representatives in Lomé had declared that "there will be no EU observation mission during the presidential elections in Togo" because the time limit was too short. "There would be a need of at least three months" to prepare for such a mission, the EU source was quoted as saying.

This will be the second presidential poll in a row were the EU fails to send an observation mission. At the June 2003 elections, Brussels did not send observers to protest the Togolese government's failure to reach an agreement with the opposition on an electoral code reform. Togo's main opposition parties also boycotted the poll.

Relations between Lomé and Brussels have been tense since 1993 as European countries demand democratic reform and respect of basic human rights in Togo to resume frozen development aid programmes worth hundreds of millions of euros. Since the 2003 poll, the EU has demanded new presidential elections to resume full cooperation.

Togo-EU relations however were thawing last year as Lomé authorities significantly improved the human rights situation in the country. The EU on 15 November partially resumed its aid programmes with Togo, but still demanded new elections organised in a free and fair way and in agreement with the opposition.

Following the 5 February death of Togo's President Gnassingbé Eyadéma, democratic reform took several steps backwards in the country. The military forces handed over power to late President Eyadéma's son, Faure Gnassingbé, in what was generally termed a coup. Only on 25 February, Mr Gnassingbé agreed to step down and prepare for new elections, following massive pressure from West African neighbours, the EU and others.

There are still many doubts whether the upcoming elections will be free and fair. Mr Gnassingbé, who runs as the ruling party's candidate, has the backing of Togo's armed forces, the interim President, parliament, the judiciary and state media. It is still unclear whether Togo's most known opposition politician, Gilchrist Olympio, is allowed to stand as candidate as he is exiled in Paris.

Due to these many doubts on whether the upcoming elections will be free and fair, the EU's absence on 24 April may be a signal that Togo's potentially greatest donor does not trust in a democratic transition. If Mr Olympio is not allowed to stand candidate, it is probable that the EU not will accept a possible victory by Mr Gnassingbé. A resumption of funds from Brussels could therefore be further delayed.

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