A top official of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says the regional bloc is “reasonably pleased” with Togo’s just-ended election, in which incumbent President Faure Gnassingbe was declared winner over the weekend.
ECOWAS political director, Abdel-Fatau Musah said the vote is a significant step forward in Togo’s effort to consolidate democracy in a fragile environment.
“Our assessment was that the process in fact up to this point has been very free, devoid of violence. And I think very significant stages of the electoral process were characterized by a high level of transparency in spite of some difficulties of course,” he said.
The independent electoral commission (CENI) declared incumbent President Faure Gnassingbe winner of the vote. But the opposition rejected the results and vowed to fight for justice.
Hundreds of Togolese died during Togo’s 2005 presidential vote, which Faure Gnassingbe also won.
But ECOWAS political director Musah says the latest poll is a major step forward.
“I think this election marks a consolidation on the results of the legislative elections in 2007 and marks a clear departure from the past where elections were shrouded in secrecy and marked by mass violence or rigging,” Musah said.
In declaring the final results, the electoral commission said incumbent Gnassingbe won 1.24 million of the 2.1 million total votes cast, while main opposition challenger, Jean Pierre Fabre received 692,000 votes.
Musah said the electoral body did a great job despite challenges.
“The electoral commission did quite well to sort of coordinate and manage these elections. It had a few lapses in their handling of the electoral process. But that is also to be anticipated because this is about the second or so major election that the newly installed Independent National Electoral Commission is handling,” Musah said.
Both local and international observers said the election was transparent and devoid of violence.