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Togo Voting Calm, Despite Fears of Violence


Voting was peaceful in Togo's presidential poll Thursday, despite fears of violence and fraud.

Election officials in Togo counted ballots aloud after polls closed Thursday in the country's presidential election.

The poll was widely seen as a test of the democratic process in the West African country. Its last presidential election in 2005 was marked by violence and accusations of vote tampering.

But voters leaving the polls Thursday in the capital city, Lome, were for the most part pleased with the calm in which people cast their ballots.

A voter in Lome says the voting happened in an orderly fashion. He says the only problem he noticed were the people who could not find their names on the voter lists and were forced to go from center to center to find where they should vote. He says he is concerned about transparency in the counting of the votes, but he hopes this election will bring about change in Togo.

Security forces were on hand, but there were no reports of violence.

Missions from the European Union and the 15-member Economic Community of West African States were on the ground to help ensure that Thursday's vote went smoothly.

An ECOWAS observer says he is pleased with the transparency and calm with which the voting took place. He says they did not note any incidents in the capital city. He says they also observed the counting of votes in several polling places.

Heads of polling places around the capital also pointed to the peace and transparency with which the casting and counting of votes had taken place.

At the polls, current president, Faure Gnassingbe, faced six opposition candidates in his run for a second term.

He is the son of late dictator Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled the country for 38 years, and his election in 2005 was a highly-contested vote that resulted in violence that left hundreds dead and displaced tens of thousands.

The results of the presidential race are expected to be announced Sunday.

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