Togo: Oppostion promises “popular uprising”

Protestors confront police in Lome, Togo

Protesters and police face off in Lome.

The headlines from Lomé, Togo are tension inducing. For Togolese or those with family there, it must be excruciating.

It appears that President and dictator’s son Fauré Gnassingbé has been elected with government reporting 1,243,044 versus 692,584 votes for nearest rival Jean-Pierre Fabre of the UFC. Official turnout was 2,119,829 (~%64), so the 5 opposition parties netted only 877,785.

But their leaders have cried foul, saying votes were bought, the satellite reporting system was fixed, and voters were intimidated. Fabre declared victory right after the vote, even threatening to name a provisional government. Combined opposition marches in Lome were twice attacked by police this weekend, with members tear gassed, HQ barricaded by soldiers, while Fabre vowed struggle: “We will launch a popular uprising until victory is ours.”

Meanwhile ECOWAS has praised the vote, mostly thanks to Faure Gnassingbé backer and President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré. The EU, which had 200 observers, claims to have no evidence of vote fraud. But they do note that in the north, Gnassingbé’s father’s region, Fuare’s people were passing out gifts, including quarter price rice. Other reports counted a 16 to 1 number of RPT posters in Lome, an opposition strong hold. UFC charges that their voters feared a repeat of 2005, where the army literally hunted down and killed those suspected of supporting the opposition. This is likely true, but neither of these tactics change the vote numbers. The RPT has used everything available to buy and bully the vote, and they have succeeded. ECOWAS or EU failure to factor in this is criminal. The EU even helped to create a special Togolese paramilitary police unit (the FOSEP) to “protect” the vote. This despite the long suspicion that Gnassingbé the younger is a puppet of elements within the security forces. I’m sure some stirring EU powerpoint presentations were provided, but that hardly changes the balance of forces.

The fact is, postcolonial rulers have gotten very good at fixing ‘free’ elections in Africa, passing the muster of democracy in a proforma fashion, while retaining real power. When the opposition makes a stick, this can pass quickly, or create instability which can fester for decades. Will this end like Gabon? Or Niger? Or — God help us — Cote d’Ivoire.


“The actions and protests announced by the opposition are evidence of an electoral malaise. Undoubtedly, Togo has, once again, missed its opportunity for a presidential election with results that would appease, not create more controversy. They have obviously not found the remedy to the evil that has plagued the country since the winds of democracy which blew across nations of West Africa in the 1990s. Curiously, it [Togo] is the only place, since then, where elections results have always been questionable. It is also the only country in West Africa where the same regime in power since 1963. Wouldn’t this explain it?”

“1- Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé of the Rassemblement du peuple togolais, (1243044 votes, 61%)
2- Jean-Pierre Fabre of l’Union des forces du changement (692 584 votes, 34%)
3- Yaowi Agboyibo of Comité d’action pour le renouveau (60 388 votes, 2,96%)
4- Kodjo Agbéyomè of l’Organisation pour bâtir dans l’union un Togo solidaire (17 397 votes)
5- Brigitte Kafui Adjamagbo Johnson : Convention démocratique des peuples africains, the only woman in the race (13 451 votes).
6- Bassabi Kagbara : Parti démocratique panafricain (8 357 votes)
7- Nicolas Lawson : Parti du renouveau et de la rédemption (6 029 votes)”

  • Afrol News reports Fears of violence after Togo elections. After making clear how polarized Togo is right now, they conclude:
    “Meanwhile, the Togolese government is preparing to consolidate its announced victory in several ways. In central Lomé, at strategic places and outside UFC headquarters, barricades are already in place to stop demonstrators and to control their movements. Armed forces are surrounding UFC headquarters, hindering the opposition from organising marches. Second, propagation of President Gnassingbé’s victory is running on top gear. Media – most of which are state-controlled – are making it clear Mr Fabre was thoroughly defeated, by democratic means of course. ‘
  • Afriquejet reports: Togo’s opposition candidate to name Prime Minister
  • South Africa’s News 24 warns: “Togo opposition protest looms”.

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