News / Africa

Togo Elections Dogged by Questions Over Who Will Take Part

Opposition supporters react to an announcement that the parliamentary elections set for July 21 will be pushed back, during an opposition rally to protest the start of campaigning, in Lome, Togo, July 6, 2013.
Opposition supporters react to an announcement that the parliamentary elections set for July 21 will be pushed back, during an opposition rally to protest the start of campaigning, in Lome, Togo, July 6, 2013.
The West African nation of Togo is gearing up for twice-delayed legislative elections planned for July 25. But while the international community has praised signs of rapprochement between the ruling and opposition parties, it remains to be seen whether everyone will participate.

Beginning last week, representatives from two major opposition coalitions and the ruling party sat down for talks over unresolved issues concerning Togo’s legislative vote. The talks were facilitated by Catholic Bishop Nicodeme Barrigah, and United States Ambassador Robert Whitehead was also present.

Major sticking points included the role of the opposition in the country’s electoral commission, as well as the continued detention of opposition candidates and supporters accused of involvement in January fires targeting markets in Lome and the northern city of Kara.

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Interior Minister Gilbert Bawara announced that three opposition candidates detained over the fires had been released. He said this was just one of the concessions the government had made to ensure a successful vote.

“The government received the request from the Coalition to Save Togo asking for the release of three candidates who were still detained so they could participate fully in the campaign. And the prosecutor has now issued an order announcing their release," said Bawara.

Also Thursday, a joint statement issued by the United States, France, Germany, the United Nations and the European Union hailed progress made during the talks, which ended Tuesday. The statement said there was now “a good base” for credible, peaceful elections.

However, a U.S. Embassy official in Lome told VOA that there were still outstanding issues, including the composition of the electoral commission. The official said it was not clear whether the issues were serious enough to lead some opposition parties to boycott.
 
As a result of the talks, the election was pushed back four days, to July 25. The opposition parties have yet to issue formal statements saying definitively whether they will participate or not.

“The discussions are still ongoing. That’s why we were surprised when the government said this date had been agreed upon," said Jean-Pierre Fabre is the leader of the opposition National Alliance for Change. "It hasn’t been agreed upon by consensus. We consider it to be something that the government has imposed."

The legislative elections were originally expected to be held last October. But five months before, the government approved a new electoral code that the opposition said favored the ruling party. The timing of the code violated a rule imposed by the West African regional bloc ECOWAS banning changes to electoral laws less than six months before a vote.

After the opposition threatened to boycott, the vote was rescheduled for March of this year. But that date was never firm, and it was ultimately pushed back to this month.

At Thursday’s press conference, Interior Minister Bawara said further delays to the vote would be unacceptable.

“The campaign has already begun, and we already have certain parties, especially independent parties, that have begun campaigning, devoting their resources and means to this effort. These elections have not just been organized for the two main opposition coalitions," he said.

Togo has been ruled by the same family almost continuously since the late 1960s. President Faure Gnassingbe took power after the death of his father, Eyadema Gnassingbe, in 2005.

The mandate for the current legislature ended in October.

Modeste Messavussu contributed to this report from Lome, Togo

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid