Posted by: Home Strange Home | March 13, 2010

Post-Election Violence in Togo

Protests continue in Llomé, the capital of Togo, in response to the contested presidential election held on Thursday, March 4.  The incumbent, President Fauré Gnassingbe, was challenged by the main opposition candidate, Jean-Pierre Fabre of the Union of Forces for Change Party (five other candidates also participated in the election). On Saturday, March 6, the election commission announced the provisional vote counts: 1.2 million of the 2 million votes cast were for Fauré Gnassingbe (60%), whereas only 692,584 were for  Jean-Pierre Fabre (35%).  The win still needs to be declared by Togo’s Constitutional Court before it becomes official.   

The UCF immediately announced that it did not recognize the result and claimed the victory was rigged.  The UCF asserted there were irregularities in the vote counts, that opposition supporters were kept away from voting stations, and that voters were bought off by the ruling party.  The UFC plans to use Constitutional Court to challenge the result.  Despite the accusations, the elections were supervised by a number of outside parties (including the EU, AU, and ECOWAS) and international observers deemed the elections to be satisfactory and did not find evidence of vote rigging.  

The opposition supporters organized a protest against the provisional results on Sunday, March 7; riot police responded by using tear gas on supporters.  Another protest march on Tuesday, March 9 was banned by the authorities; only a couple hundred young men came out to participate.  Eyewitness reports indicate that the protests continue but the number of protesters is diminishing.  Six thousand gendarmes are patrolling the city of Llomé.  

Togo has essentially been ruled by the same family for 43 years, as President Gnassingbe came into power after his father, the dictator Gnassingbe Eyadema, passed away on February 5, 2005, ending 38 years of rule which began in 1967.  Upon his father’s death, the military took control and installed Fauré Gnassingbe in power.  “Elections” were held later in 2005 in which Fauré Gnassingbe “won,” but they were widely considered to be fraudulent as the military interfered at polling stations.  In the violence following the 2005 elections, several hundred people were killed, and there is concern that history might repeat itself in the current situation. 


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