- Faure Gnassingbé, the controversial candidate of the ruling party, today was declared the winner of Togo's presidential elections, held on Sunday. The announcement of the victory of Mr Gnassingbé's, the son of Togo's late dictator, today caused violent protests by the opposition, who claims the poll was rigged.
Togo's National Electoral Commission (CENI) today announced that Mr Gnassingbé had won a comfortable victory in Sunday's poll, allegedly getting 60.2 percent of all votes. The candidate of the united opposition, Emmanuel Bob-Akitani, was said to have polled only 38.2 percent of all votes. Voters' turnout had been at 63.6 percent, according to CENI's provisional results.
CENI leader Kissem Tchangai-Walla thus concluded that there already was a winner. "In view of these results [Mr Gnassingbé] has been provisionally elected," said Mr Tchangai-Walla. Before Mr Gnassingbé is declared Togo's next President, the Constitutional Court however has to confirm the poll result.
CENI's announcement immediately caused the already mobilised opposition supporters to take to the streets of Lomé, the capital. The united opposition, which was sure of its victory, already on Sunday had denounced widespread fraud and rigging at the polling stations. Supporters are now in the streets of Lomé, protesting another "stolen election" and engaging in attacks on the police.
There have been voiced grave concerns over the seemingly escalating violence, which some observers fear could bring Togo to the brink of civil war. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the UN are trying to engage the leaders of the two parties in talks to find a peaceful solution to the violent atmosphere.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on all sides to "refrain from any further incitement." In a statement read out today, Mr Annan repeated his "urgent appeal for calm, and calls upon the various political leaders and their supporters to refrain from any actions or statements that incite further violence or promote hatred and divisions in the country."
Togo has been roiled by unrest ever since the death in February of long-term ruling Dictator Gnassingbé Eyadéma, when Mr Eyadéma's son, Faure Gnassingbé, suddenly was appointed Head of State even though the constitution called for the President of the National Assembly to become acting president until fresh elections.
ECOWAS and the AU thus protested what the called a coup d'état in Togo, demanding that the constitutional amendment that put Mr Gnassingbé in power was reversed. Mr Gnassingbé finally stepped down after ECOWAS imposed sanctions. ECOWAS has also monitored Sunday's election, but West African observers have yet to pinpoint any irregularities.
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