News / Africa

Competing Political Rallies in Togo

Supporters of opposition Togolese party 'Union of Forces for Change' (UFC), rally in the center of Lome, 13 Mar 2010
Supporters of opposition Togolese party 'Union of Forces for Change' (UFC), rally in the center of Lome, 13 Mar 2010

Togo's two largest political parties held separate marches in the capital Saturday.  Ruling party supporters are celebrating the re-election of the president.  The main opposition party is protesting results from this month's election that it says are unfair.

Opposition supporters in yellow t-shirts marched through the streets of Lome denouncing electoral results that indicate President Faure Gnassingbe won re-election with more than 60 percent of the vote.

Opposition candidate Jean-Pierre Fabre's Union of Forces for Change is challenging those results in court saying the ruling party stuffed ballot boxes and inflated vote totals submitted to the electoral commission.

Ruling party supporters in white t-shirts marched separately through the capital celebrating their win and another five years for President Gnassingbe, who first took power in 2005 following the death of his father Gnassingbe Eyadema who ruled Togo for more than 38 years.

Security forces say the routes of the two marches do not intersect and the rival supporters will be kept apart to prevent violence.

Riot police broke up an opposition protest with tear gas Tuesday.  Security forces then arrested several members of Fabre's party inside party headquarters where Fabre said they seized materials that were part of the opposition's legal challenge to President Gnassingbe's re-election.

Observers from the Economic Community of West African States say they believe the vote itself was fair but they're expressing concern about hte reliability of vote totals reported to the electoral commission after the breakdown of a satellite system meant to transmit results from polling stations.

African Union observers led by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo say that they believe that the poll was conducted in a generally free and transparent manner though they too heard complaints about the collection of results by members of the electoral commission.  

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