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 Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid