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Togo's Presidential Vote Begins Amid Tensions


Ruling-party candidate Faure Gnassingbe casts his vote in Lome
Togo's presidential election is under way Sunday, amid escalating tensions in the West African state.

Faure Gnassingbe, the ruling party's candidate, says the election is the first step toward restoring peace and security in Togo. Mr. Gnassingbe seized power in February, after the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had ruled the country for 37 years.

Faure Gnassingbe's abrupt move to take control triggered domestic unrest and international protest, and he was eventually persuaded to step aside and run for election. The interim leader who has been leading the Lome government most recently, Abbas Bonfoh, has called for calm after weeks of protests and accusations that voting lists were being rigged to favor the ruling party.

Mr. Bonfoh dismissed the interior minister, Francois Boko, on Friday after he said the risk of bloodshed justified postponing the election.

Mr. Gnassingbe's main rival in Sunday's vote is longtime opposition leader Emmanuel Akitani Bob. Another candidate, Nicolas Lawson, pulled out of the race Saturday.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.

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