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Togo counts votes in presidential election

February 22, 2020

Togolese have cast their votes in an election that follows protests against President Faure Gnassingbe's rule. Last year, Gnassingbe reformed the West African nation's constitution to allow him to lead until 2030.

Supporters of President Gnassingbe in Lome, Togo
Image: Reuters/L. Gnago

Vote counting in Togo began on Saturday in the country's presidential election, which followed protests against the dynastic rule of one family that has lasted half a century.

Incumbent President Faure Gnassingbe is looking to secure a fourth term in office. He has led the country of eight million since 2005, when his father Gnassingbe Eyadema died after 38 years in the role.

"For 50 years it’s been the same family. I want change, stability, end of poverty," 28-year-old voter Octave told DW.

In 2017 and 2018, protests shook the country as people rallied against five decades of rule by one family, in a country where a large proportion of the population continues to live in poverty.

Soldiers close-off opposition candidate 

Afters after the polls closed, security forces surrounded the home of Agbeyome Kodjo, a key opposition candidate.

The Togolese government said that the measure was for Kodjo's "own safety" after authorities were informed that the contender might face a risk of an attack, AFP reported.

People line up to vote in the presidential elections in Lome, Togo
People line up to vote in the presidential elections in Lome, Togo Image: Reuters/L. Gnago

'I don't feel like a dictator'

Gnassingbe has pushed through constitutional changes that allow him to remain in power for another term, and potentially until as late as 2030.

"I don't feel like a dictator," Gnassingbe said in an interview with AFP. The incumbent has been accused of ruling the country with an iron fist. He is widely expected to win the election.

But six challengers have aimed to persuade the 3.6 million registered voters to remove Gnassingbe and potentially usher in change.

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kp,mvb,ed/mm (AFP, AP, Reuters)