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Home of Togo Opposition Candidate Surrounded by Security Forces

Agbeyome Kodjo, presidential candidate of MPDD (Patriotic Movement for Democracy and Development), talks before he casts his ballot, during a presidential election in Lome, Togo, Feb. 22, 2020.

The home of a key Togo opposition candidate was surrounded by security forces just hours after polls closed Saturday in elections widely expected to see President Faure Gnassingbe claim a fourth term in power.

Troops could be seen outside the house of Agbeyome Kodjo, considered an important challenger in the electoral race, as the government confirmed the move and said it was for "his own safety."

"We are largely in the lead everywhere. My house is surrounded by soldiers," Kodjo told AFP.

Security forces were blocking all access to the property in the capitalm Lome, according to AFP journalists at the scene, while military roadblocks were being put up in the city.

Calm during vote

Polls closed earlier Saturday in an election that was initially reported to be calm with a moderate turnout, although many voters had vowed not to take part in an election they described as neither free nor fair.

Gnassingbe has led the West African country of 8 million people since 2005 following the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled with an iron fist for 38 years.

Kodjo, who served as prime minister under Gnassingbe's father, is seen as a potential dark horse after winning the backing of an influential former Catholic archbishop.

The Togo security minister, Yark Damehame, said both Kodjo's home and that of the former archbishop had been surrounded as a precaution.

"We have received reports that he is at risk of an attack on his house by unruly individuals, but I cannot tell you from which side," he said.