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Election In Togo


The national election commission has declared Faure Gnassingbe the provisional winner of Togo's presidential election. Mr. Gnassingbe received sixty-percent of the vote, and Emanuel Akitani Bob finished second with thirty-eight percent.

When the results were announced, militants took to the streets of Lome, Togo's capital, burning tires, setting up barricades, and stopping cars. U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says the election "falls short of the aspirations of both the Togolese people and the expectation of Togo's friends in the international community":

"We would note irregularities in voter registration and voter card distribution prior to the election, and on election day flaws in voting procedures that raise serious questions about the accuracy of the provisional vote totals."

The election in Togo was held to select a successor to Gnassingbe Eyadema, the father of Faure Gnassingbe. President Eyadema was an authoritarian ruler installed by the Togolese military in 1967.

His government had long resisted demands for democratization. Despite the facade of multiparty elections instituted in the early 1990s, the government continued to be dominated by President Eyadema's Rally of the Togolese People party.

Togo became known for human rights abuses. In 2004, under pressure from the European Union, the government released five-hundred political prisoners and opened a dialogue with opposition parties.

The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, helped organize the presidential election. Officials from ECOWAS and the African Union also held discussions with representatives of Mr. Gnassingbe and Mr. Akitani to discuss the formation of a national unity government.

State Department deputy spokesman Ereli says the U.S. supports a process in Togo in which all the major political forces participate:

"The purpose of such a government would be to heal the political divisions in Togo created by this election process and to focus on constitutional reform and an electoral code that would allow for fully credible, transparent, and free elections in the future."

"Violence," says Mr. Ereli, "is not the answer to this problem. All political leaders in Togo have a responsibility to ensure that their supporters remain calm and avoid violent confrontations."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.

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