Violence, allegations of fraud disrupt election in Togo

Monday, April 25, 2005

Togo, Africa

Australian broadcasters SBS report three deaths in violence centered around allegations of fraud in Sunday's election in the west African nation of Togo. The election is held to choose a president to replace Togo's recently deceased ruler of 38 years, Gnassingbé Eyadéma.

Three candidates stood for the election: the son of the late president, Faure Gnassingbé, 74-year-old Emmanuel Akitani Bob, and Harry Olympio, a cousin of the man who lead Togo before the coup in 1963. A fourth candidate, Nicolas Lawson, also ran but removed himself from consideration 2 days before the election "because of fears of fraud," said the Voice of America News.

The elder Gnassingbé died in February of this year while being transported out of the country for medical care. The Togolese army supported the son of the late ruler as an interim president in contravention of the constitution, which indicates that power should pass to the Speaker of the Parliament. According to the BBC, at the time of the president's death, the current speaker, Fambare Natchaba Ouattara, was in Paris. The Togolese army closed the border, and Ouattara took refuge in neighboring Benin.