Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé Eyadéma has been re-elected as ‘President’ for the fourth term on a 72 percent winning margin in the just concluded general elections, amid electoral fraud speculations from the opposition. The announcement was made today in Lome, the country’s capital, by the President of its Electoral Commission, Tchambakou Ayassor.
Ayassor also announced that the former prime minister and head of the National Assembly who was a key opposition candidate of president Gnassingbe, Agbeyome Kodjo, received 18 percent votes. The commission reported that only 76 percent of registered eligible voters voted in the elections. However, Kodjo has protested the result and accused the authority of widespread fraud. He further blamed the authorities of setting up fake polling stations, ballot stuffing and getting people to cast multiple votes in President Gnassingbé’s favour.
The country’s electoral commission which staged the elections last Saturday the 22nd of February had earlier revoked the accreditation of the main independent 500 observer group which was to monitor the country’s presidential election, only 5 days to the elections. The commission accused them of “preparing to carry out interference” in the vote. It also cancelled the system of electronic security at the last moment. This begs the question of how free and fair the February 22nd Presidential election was.
The 53-year-old Togolese President facilitated a constitutional change in parliament that gave him the ticket to run for another two-five term till 2030 if he won the elections. This has become a common trend among many African leaders, who tend to move for constitutional reform to favour their ambitions of a long term rule.
In as much as Gnassingbe denies it, his government is regarded as a dynasty. The president had come into power 15years ago (in 2005) after his Father’s death, who took over the reins of Togo for 38years (since 1967) after a coup. In 2017 and 2018, President Gnassingbe’s government was faced with major protests with activist demanding an end to his family’s rule. But the protests were repressed government and squabbles among the opposition.
A number of reasons may count for why the Togolese may have reelected the incumbent president. The country, in the reins of Gnassingbe, has recorded a considerable level of successes for the past two years. Among the many achievements of his rule is his successful drive to turn Togo into an economic and logistics hub in the West African region.
The country’s seaport in Lome has been rated as West Africa’s leading port beating Nigeria’s Lagos port to it. To also ranked as the 59th economy in the world in the Ease of Doing Business ranking, boosting the confidence of other 1st world countries in its economic future.
Moreso, President Gnassingbe’s government which had acquired a near-dead economy from his father was able to regain the trust of international lenders after taking major steps towards constitutional reforms where he included about 21 opposition to his government. He went on to clear the state debts to cotton farmers which they never dreamed of getting back. He also got debt relief worth 212 million Euros from the World Bank and a 273 million Euro debt cleared off by the Paris Club.
His administration currently boosts of stability alongside a strong and efficient army/intelligence unit which has prevented the penetration of jihadist groups from its borders. Having been ruled with an iron fist for 38 years, Faure Gnassingbe would seem like the only economic messiah they have ever known.