Parliamentary Elections Go Ahead in TogoJuly 26, 2013 in Africa
On Friday, officials in Togo began to tally up the votes after long-delayed parliamentary elections were held on 25 July. On Thursday, voters had queued up in order to cast their ballots in what officials have indicated were mainly peaceful elections. The head of the African Union’s observer mission, Guinea’s Prime Minister Kabine Komara, has indicated that the election process seemed smooth throughout the early hours of voting. The polls come after months of protests which were backed by the opposition in its bid to weaken the ruling family’s decades-long grip on power. Final results, along with a breakdown of the number of seats won by each party in the proportional electoral system, are not expected for another several days. However the vote is seen as an indication of what will likely happen when presidential elections are held next year, with some experts indicating that yesterday’s elections could expose weaknesses in the grip of the Ganssingbe family which has ruled the country for more than four decades.
While the African Union observer mission indicated that the election process seemed smooth, roughly two hours after polling stations were opened on Thursday, the most prominent opposition leader in the West African nation voiced his concerns over some initial issues however he noted that he was confident that the vote would be clear. Jean Pierre Fabre, who is running for a parliamentary seat, indicated that several polling stations had opened after the agreed time of 0700 GMT and that ballot materials had not been delivered on schedule at a number of ballot stations. Crowds of several hundred had built up at some of the polling stations, with some complaining that their names could not be found on the voter lists.
The polls mark the latest step in the country’s transition to a democracy after Gnassingbe Eyadema’s rule from 1967 to his death in 2005, when the military installed his son Faure Gnassingbe as president. Since 2005, Faure Gnassingbe has won elections in 2005 and 2010 however the opposition has denounced both winnings as fraudulent. Thursday’s elections are the first legislative polls to occur since 2007, when President Gnassingbe’s party won 50 of the 81 seats. This time, ninety-one seats will be decided. Since 2007, the polls have been rescheduled twice as mediators struggled to bring the government and opposition to an agreement. A total of 1,174 candidates are standing in Thursday’s elections, with 159 women among them.