- Sunday's elections in Togo, which went rather peacefully, have not done away with the tense situation in the country. The opposition takes its victory for granted but expects the electoral commission to rig the polls. Activists in the streets of the capital, Lomé, are ready to strike if the ruling party's candidate is declared winner.
Yesterday's poll at a first glance seemed to have been carried out in a peaceful and orderly manner, causing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to welcome the "successful and peaceful conclusion of the election" in a statement. Mr Annan hoped that with a "credible poll", the process of "sustainable national reconciliation, political stability and economic recovery" could now begin.
Today, however, there are few signs of a demobilisation by the followers of the united opposition and of the ruling party. The atmosphere in the streets of Lomé is tenser than ever as voters expect the announcement of the election results.
The opposition has already started documenting grave irregularities and possible fraud on election day. They claim that at least three persons had been killed and large numbers were injured yesterday, following clashes between opposition supporters and police troops. At most polling stations, however, the voting had been peaceful.
Further, government security forces had hindered opposition election observers from doing their job. Police officers had confiscated computers and information sheets used by the observers to document the polling process. The opposition's election monitoring office was emptied by armed forces, who took away computers and blocked access to the building.
The opposition today formally complained against these violations of the election's guidelines. Spokesmen of the six-party alliance said these irregularities were part of a wider scheme to rig the election. The lead-up to today's election had been marred by violence as well as press restrictions and irregularities in the organisation of the polling.
The West African Community of States (ECOWAS) has plaid a major role in organising these polls to assure that Togo's returns to constitutional order and political stability. ECOWAS has also sent 150 election observers to supervise the poll. So far, the ECOWAS team has not reported on any irregularities, however.
The National Election Commission (CENI) is expected to announce the results of the poll tomorrow or Wednesday. Most observers believe that any outcome is likely to cause a new wave of violence in Togo. Neither the opposition nor the ruling party will accept defeat in Sunday's presidential poll. Supporters of both sides are highly motivated to lead mass action against the announced winner.
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