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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid