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Togo Election Board Gives Incumbant Eyadema Victory - 2003-06-04

Togo's election board says final results give President Gnassinge Eyadema, Africa's longest serving ruler, the victory in a controversial presidential election held Sunday. Opposition parties call the results are a sham.

Results from Sunday's election in Togo give Mr. Eyadema 57 percent of the vote. Opposition candidate Bob Emmanuel Akitani is credited with 34 percent. None of the other opposition candidates got more than five percent of the vote.

The results still need to be certified by Togo's constitutional court before being finalized.

Losing candidates immediately said the results were manipulated.

Leopold Gnininvi, an opposition leader who backed out of the race in the final week to support Mr. Akitani also said the results are fabricated.

Mr. Gnininvi said opposition observers who monitored the vote say their results show Mr. Akitani should be the winner. Opposition leaders also say there was massive fraud on voting day and that many voters in opposition strongholds weren't allowed to vote because they weren't able to get their voting cards.

Official results show Mr. Akitani, who also had the support of popular exiled opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio largely won in the region of Lome, but not enough to secure an overall victory.

Two top aides to Mr. Akitani were detained Tuesday, after authorities complained that they were inciting militants to commit acts of violence. The two aides were also linked to the burning of a French gas station earlier this month, after Mr. Olympio was disqualified from the election because of new residency requirements.

Opposition leaders said supporters of President Eyadema were behind the attack on the gas station and as well as acts of violence against opposition activists in recent days.

Interior Minister Francois Boko said he hopes losing candidates will take their complaints to the courts and not incite more violence. "There are institutions who have the job to take the complaint in these elections and analyze the complaints. So we must have trust in these institutions and let the institutions of the republic work kindly to preserve peace and to preserve national cohesion," Mr. Boko said.

Following the previous election in 1998, authorities stopped vote counting and declared Mr. Eyadema the winner. A constitutional change in December allowed him to seek another mandate. When he voted on Sunday, he said there was room for everyone in a government of national unity following the election.

Mr. Akitani said he had no interest in joining such a government, and said earlier this week he would form his own government because he says he won the election.