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Eyadema is Early Leader in Togo Elections - 2003-06-03


Partial results in the west African nation of Togo give Africa's longest ruling leader Gnassingbe Eyadema the early lead in Sunday's presidential election, but one opposition candidate says he is forming his own government because he is the winner.

The team of opposition candidate Emmanuel Akitani Bob says it will begin forming its own nationality government this week because they say they are the real winners of Sunday's election. Reports from opposition delegates and government officials indicate Mr. Akitani has won nearly 80 percent of the vote in parts of the capital, Lome, which accounts for about a fourth of Togo's electorate.

But late Monday, the national electoral board, which is counting the votes, said partial results give President Eyadema the early lead with nearly 60 percent of the vote. Mr. Akitani, who has the support of popular exiled opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio, is in second place with 35 percent of the vote.

The electoral board says these figures come from 40 percent of total ballots cast, but it did not say where the results came from. The candidate in third place, Maurice Dahuku Pere, who was credited with less than three percent of the vote, also says he is the winner of the election.

Interior Minister Francois Bocot said he hopes that, whatever the final results are, violence can be avoided. "I believe in the spirit of the Togolese people; that this beautiful country will not break up," he says. "And I think that we are intelligent and we can have a consensus so that all Togolese people can live here in freedom."

Late Monday, a security force was deployed around the party headquarters of Mr. Akitani in Lome where earlier in the day, hundreds of militants chanted for change, saying they were tired of Mr. Eyadema, who has been in power 36 years.

Opposition candidates say there was massive fraud in Sunday's election, including ballot stuffing, with government supporters adding illegal ballots to legal ones. Opposition observers also said they were barred from witnessing vote counting in northern areas, the main stronghold of Mr. Eyadema.

International observers on the ground, mainly from Africa, expressed concern that many would-be voters were turned away from polling stations on Sunday because they did not have voting cards.

Unlike in recent elections in Togo, these voting cards were not available at polling stations on the voting day, but needed to be obtained earlier this month. Many residents in opposition strongholds said authorities were blocking the procedure in the days before the vote.

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