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Togo's Court Certifies Victory of Gnassingbe; Opposition Threatens Violence

Faure Gnassingbe casts his vote in Lome
Togo's constitutional court has certified the results of last month's presidential election, which gave victory to Faure Gnassingbe, the son of the country's late ruler. The controversial election, which was tarnished by reports of massive fraud, led to clashes among political adversaries in which dozens of people were killed. The Togolese opposition is calling for more popular resistance.

The chairman of Togo's constitutional court Atsou-Koffi Amegah officially declared Faure Gnassingbe the new president of Togo.

He said his winning margin was 60.15 percent, a fraction lower than the provisional results announced last week. This was because results from several polling stations where there were more votes than registered voters had been canceled.

The court rejected a complaint filed by main opposition candidate Emmanuel Akitani-Bob that the whole election should be declared null and void. The court said there were problems, but not serious enough to affect the outcome.

Observers have said they saw evidence of under age voters on polling day April 24 as well as foreigners going to vote with dozens of ballot papers in their hands. Television footage showed army soldiers stealing ballot boxes in opposition strongholds when vote counting began.

Angry opposition militants then destroyed ballot boxes in the same voting centers.

A journalist close to the southern-based opposition, Modeste Messavusuu, said the southern capital Lome was mostly deserted Tuesday after results were announced. He said many people cowered inside their homes.

In contrast, last week's release of provisional results sparked rioting and a brutal crackdown by the military. About 20,000 Togolese have fled southern areas to nearby Benin and Ghana, many complaining of persecution by the army.

Jean-Pierra Fabre, a spokesman for Mr. Akitani-Bob, who officially won 38 percent of the vote said the opposition would give the army-backed 39-year-old Gnassingbe a hard time and would refuse to enter a national unity government.

A swearing in ceremony is due Wednesday.

The same constitutional court already swore in Mr. Gnassingbe who was installed as president by the army following his father's death. He stepped down several weeks later under internal and external pressure to allow elections.

The distant third place finisher in the presidential ballot, Nicolas Lawson, told VOA he believes violence will soon start up again, because most Togolese are fed up with having the same family in power and no prospects for a better life.

"You cannot make a revolution without violence. You will have a degree of violence...We are going to destroy the system and then develop our country," he said.

Togo's neighboring countries as well as the United States have urged the opposition to join a national unity government, despite the problems with the controversial election.