Accessibility links

Togo: Eyadema Sworn in for Another Term - 2003-06-20

Africa's longest-ruling leader, Togo's President Gnassingbe Eyadema, has been sworn in to another five-year term, despite opposition accusations of fraud in the recent election.

President Eyadema pledged allegiance to Togo's constitution in Lome Friday, starting a new five-year term.

The 67-year-old leader has been in power for 36 years, following a coup in the mid-1960s.

The mood was festive at the Palais des Congres as seven West African heads of state looked on.

Togo's election board says Mr. Eyadema won the June 1 election with nearly 58 percent of the vote.

But the opposition says the entire election process was fraudulent, including the vote counting. Losing candidate Bob Emmanuel Akitani says election observers from his party say he is the rightful winner.

Mr. Akitani is calling on his supporters to start protests in the coming days. He also says he will form his own government. The opposition has made such plans in the past, but has not carried them out.

Constitutional changes last year allowed Mr. Eyadema to seek a new term, even though he had previously said he would not run again.

On voting day, Mr. Eyadema predicted his victory and called on his political opponents to join him in a government of national unity.

Development aid to Togo was cut off in the early 1990s because of concerns over Mr. Eyadema's human rights policy. U.S. observers from the Martin Luther King Foundation are calling for a lifting of the aid sanctions. They say the vote was generally free and fair.

The other main donor before the sanctions took effect, the European Union, refused to send a team of observers to monitor the election, after a delegation was refused entry into Togo during the campaign.