News / Africa

    Togo Holds Elections Thursday Amid Frustration With Ruling Party

    A Togolese soldier has his identity checked before casting his ballot during the early voting for the country's parliamentary elections, at the RIT camp in Lome, July 22, 2013.
    A Togolese soldier has his identity checked before casting his ballot during the early voting for the country's parliamentary elections, at the RIT camp in Lome, July 22, 2013.
    The small West African nation of Togo is holding legislative elections on Thursday amid signs voters are increasingly fed up with the ruling party. Analysts say in order to win, though, the opposition will have to overcome its own divisions, as well as an electoral system vulnerable to fraud.

    Negotiations over how the election would be run continued until just a few weeks ago, and major opposition parties refused to confirm until recently that they would participate.
     
    On Tuesday, the final day of campaigning, however, all the major parties staged rallies in Togo’s capital, Lome, expressing confidence about their chances.

    Hopeful opposition
     
    The head of the opposition Rainbow Coalition, Dodji Apevon, was at a rally in Lome’s Be neighborhood. He said the government had more resources during the campaign, but he was happy with his party’s performance.

    He said opposition leaders are satisfied, even though they were competing in a campaign with many constraints. But Apevon said the population is enthusiastic, the leaders are proud, and he is sure the Rainbow Coalition will have the majority in the next legislature.
     
    The leader of the Coalition to Save Togo, the other main opposition group, Jean-Pierre Fabre, said he believes voters are ready for “fundamental change.” He said it would be important to ensure that the will of the voters is respected.
     
    Togo has been ruled by the same family since 1967, when Eyadema Gnassingbe came to power. His son, Faure Gnassingbe, followed suit when Eyadema died in 2005, winning a flawed and violent election that year and a more credible re-election in 2010.
     
    The past two years have seen signs of growing frustration with Togo’s leaders. Massive demonstrations have been held even in the country’s north, a traditional stronghold for the Gnassingbe family. Poverty is widespread, and youth unemployment is high in a country where more than 60 percent of the population is under 25, according to the African Development Bank.

    Election concerns

    These legislative elections originally were scheduled for October 2012, but large-scale protests over a new electoral law forced them to be pushed back.
     
    Thursday’s vote will be monitored by a team from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, the African Union, and the Dakar-based NGO Goree Institute.
     
    West African politics expert Comi Toulabor, who directs research at France’s National Foundation of Political Science, said that even with monitors in place, there is no guarantee the election will be fair. He said the vote is not very well organized. It is an improvisation, and it is the government that gives the results. So those are not necessarily the results the Togolese have chosen.”
     
    But at a rally Tuesday, Georges Aidam, a vice president in the ruling party, said he was pleased with how the campaign had unfolded. He said he expects a good result for the ruling party, and he is happy the campaign has unfolded without major problems. There have been no major incidents. He asks all the party's supporters to come out to vote Thursday in the places where they are registered.
     
    The election Thursday will be for all of the legislature’s 91 seats.

    Modeste Messavussu contributed to this report from Lome, Togo.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora