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March 05, 2010

Electoral Commission Says Togo's President Wins Re-Election

by Scott Stearns

Togo's electoral commission says the country's president has won re-election.

Independent National Electoral Commission leader Issifou Taffa Tabiou says Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe won more than 60 percent of ballots cast, winning re-election with more than 1.2 million votes.

Tabiou says opposition candidate Jean-Pierre Fabre received nearly 700,000 votes, or just over a third of the ballots. Former prime minister Yawovi Agboyibo finished third with less than three percent of the vote.

The results from Thursday's election will be transmitted to Togo's constitutional court within eight days and can be appealed.

Ahead of the announcement of final poll results late Saturday, Fabre led several hundred opposition demonstrators into the capital's main square. Riot police broke up that protest with tear-gas and set-up barricades at strategic positions. Witnesses say Lome is quieter than a usual Saturday night.

Fabre says there were voting irregularities including stuffed ballot boxes. An opposition member of the electoral commission resigned Saturday to protest what he called fraud.

Observers from the Economic Community of West African States say they believe the vote was fair, but they are expressing concern about the reliability of totals reported to the electoral commission after a breakdown in the satellite system meant to transmit returns from polling stations.

Regional military observers and several thousand special Togolese forces were deployed to keep calm during this vote following post-electoral violence in 2005 that the United Nations says killed more than 400 people and sent thousands of refugees into Ghana and Benin.

President Gnassingbe won that 2005 vote following the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled Togo for more than 38 years.

The electoral commission says more than 64 percent of Togo's 3.2 million registered voters took part in Thursday's vote. It was closely watched by regional diplomats following last month's military coup in Niger and a presidential election in Ivory Coast that has been postponed seven times in the last five years.