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Togo: Ruling party wins overwhelming parliament majority

May 5, 2024

President Gnassingbe's UNIR party won 108 of the house's 113 seats. The divisive vote followed constitutional amendments earlier this year which could further extend Gnassingbe's 19-year rule.

A voter casts her ballot at a polling station at the Hedzranawoe public primary school in Lome on April 29, 2024, during Togo's legislative elections.
The election follows constitutional amendments which could further extend the president's 19-year ruleImage: Emile Kouton/AFP

Togo's ruling party won a parliamentary majority in legislative elections, the country's electoral commission announced on Saturday.

According to the provisional results President Faure Gnassingbe's Union for the Republic (UNIR) party secured 108 of the 113 seats in parliament. 

The voter turnout was 61%, the commission said.

Why does the result matter?

The sweeping victory in the April 29 election follows a divisive constitutional reform approved by the outgoing parliament earlier this year.

Critics say the approved amendments, from a presidential to a parliamentary regime, could further extend Gnassingbe's 19-year rule.

It stipulates that the president will be elected by parliament rather than by universal suffrage.

While the president's role becomes largely ceremonial, the amendments have also introduced a new role of president of the council of ministers. The position, similar to a prime minister, is automatically assumed by the leader of the majority party in parliament. 

Saturday's election results mean Gnassingbe would assume the role.

President Faure Gnassingbe
Gnassingbe will now be able to take a new post as president of the council of ministers, a role similar to prime minister Image: Filip Singer/EPA POOL/dpa/picture alliance

The legislative vote had been delayed twice, after opposition parties said the constitutional reforms were a ploy to allow Gnassingbe to rule for life.

Opposition parties had taken part in the vote, hoping to win seats that would enable them to challenge the ruling UNIR party.

Gnassingbe became president in 2005, succeeding his father, President Eyadema Gnassingbe, who ruled the west African country for 38 years.

rmt/lo (AFP, Reuters)