All is set for free & fair Togolese elections – EC assures

The Electoral Commission of Togo says it has put all in place stringent measures to ensure that Saturday’s election is free, fair and transparent.

The commission says it has set up three platforms that would be used in collating results from polling stations.

In an interview with TV3’s Odelia Ofori in Togo,  Clement Aganahi, who is in charge of Expert Identification at the Commission said returning officers will have the option of sending the results ahead by either fax,text or voice calls.

He told TV3 all three would be verified before the result is certified.

This has become necessary after several Togolese called for electoral reforms in a country whose previous elections were largely tagged unfair.

The Togolese elections was postponed from April 15, after the opposition called for a cleanup of the voter register and other electoral reforms.

CACIT,  a leading Think Tank Togo still lacks confidence in the electoral process despite the reforms.

The  Think Tank fears opposition parties may not accept the results of the polls if goes in favour of the incumbent.

Togo goes to the polls Saturday April 25 to elect a President. The current constitution allows a presidential candidate to vie for president as many times as they can win election.

The incumbent president will have a third term presidency that will see him staying in office fifteen years.

President Faure Gnassingbe is looking to continue his family’s 48-year rule, 10 years after violence marred the handover of power from his father.

Although he still seen as the favourite, he may face a bigger challenge than in the past.

Faure Gnassingbe Eyadema  of the Union for the Republic party, 48, has been in power since his father Gnassingbe Eyadema died in office in 2005 after ruling Togo with an iron fist for 38 years.

His campaign has been stressing Togo’s recent respectable economic record, as well as his government’s extensive infrastructure projects, especially road construction.

The main opposition candidate, Jean-Pierre Fabre (Combat for Political Leadership Change in 2015), is an economics graduate and former newspaper editor. He started his political career in the opposition movement against Gnassingbe Eyadema, and unsuccessfully stood against Faure Gnassingbe in 2010.

Campaigning at the head of a coalition of opposition parties, he has promised to end what he calls officials’ impunity, corruption and disregard for the law, and to use the proceeds of economic growth to reduce widespread unemployment and fund improved public services.

Other contenders

Other contenders are Aime Tchaboure Gogue (Alliance of Democrats for Integral Development), Gerry Taama (New Togolese Commitment) and Mouhamed Tchassona Traore (Patriotic Movement for Democracy and Development).

Although no opinion polls have been published, most observers think the election will be a two-horse race between Faure Gnassingbe and Jean-Pierre Fabre. In 2010, official results gave Faure Gnassingbe victory, with 61% of the vote against 34% for Mr. Fabre.

Although the president is again the firm favourite, many observers think the result could be closer this time.

Economic issues

Togo’s GDP has more than doubled since 2005 and economic growth reached 5.6% in 2014.

But critics say the benefits have mainly gone to a wealthy minority, while most ordinary Togolese still suffer from high poverty and unemployment rates.

2011 statistics show 58% of the population lived on less than a dollar a day, and while official figures put the jobless rate at 6%, many believe the actual figure is much higher.

Unemployment disproportionately affects the young, who make up a rapidly growing percentage of Togo’s population.

Electoral system

The president of Togo is elected by universal adult suffrage for a five-year term. About 3.5 million people are entitled to vote.

To win, a candidate has to come first among all candidates in a single round of voting; he or she does not need to gain more than 50% of the vote, and there is no second round.

The West African regional bloc Ecowas and the African Union are deploying observers.

The election was postponed from 15 April in response to allegations of irregularities on the electoral register.

Previous polls

The 2005 elections were overshadowed by fraud allegations and violent protests which left at least 400 people dead.

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Five years later, the opposition unsuccessfully contested official results that handed Mr. Gnassingbe a second term, while international observers judged it “acceptable”.

Last year, opposition protests failed to bring about constitutional changes limiting the president to two terms in office – a move that would have prevented Mr. Gnassingbe from standing.

Western observers see it as encouraging that, so far, the campaign has been peaceful.

By: with additional files from  BBC



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