Thursday, April 23, 2015

Togo: Opposition counts on transparency to win poll

Togolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Fabre believes he can win Saturday's presidential election given the poll's high level of transparency, a senior opposition leader has said.

"With the recently found consensus about the electoral roll, the elections will indeed be more credible than those of previous years," Patrick Lawson, vice-president of the the National Alliance for Change, told The Anadolu Agency three days before the polls.

Earlier this month, the Independent National Electoral Commission purged the electoral list, which had included thousands of duplicate names that the opposition worried would work in favor of incumbent President Faure Gnassingbe, who is running for a third term.

"Although it was difficult to clean the electoral register in ten days, we nevertheless considered the development to be an improvement. And that was sufficient for us to engage in the race," Lawson said.

"Yet this electoral roll should be reviewed thoroughly later on. All we could do was remove the duplicate names, but there are still some remaining, which is normal given the short time given," Lawson, Fabre's campaign manager, added.

Lawson cited 1998 presidential elections, when the international community questioned the legal framework of the elections and the opposition alleged massive fraud.

In 2005, election-related violence led to between 600 and 1,000 dead following similar accusations, he recalled.

But unlike previous Togolese elections, the opposition is less concerned this time around.

"This time I can assure you that we have invested a lot in the vote, so the will of the people will be reflected in the outcome," he said.

"We made sure that we would receive the vote count records in time, so that no fraud can be committed," he added.

Lawson urged political parties to strive to ensure that Saturday's elections passed peacefully.

"We do not want to see disputes and violence this time. It is necessary for all stakeholders to make sure that no fraud takes place," he said.

"If this is the case, I believe everyone will accept the verdict of the polls and we will be ready to acknowledge our defeat and shake hands with the winner," he added.

However, Lawson believes that if elections are transparent, Fabre will win the top post.

"Fabre's victory, if it happens, will be a victory for all Togolese. There will be no witch hunt. Whether you are from the south, north, east or west, we are all the sons of this country. And as such, we should unify our efforts to build it together," he said.

Five candidates will vie for Togo's presidency, with the frontrunners expected to be Gnassingbe, in power since 2005, and Fabre.

The candidate list also includes Aime Gogue of the opposition Alliance of Democrats for Integral Development; Komandega Taama of the opposition New Togolese Commitment Party; and Mohamed Tchassona Traore of the Citizens' Movement for Democracy and Development.


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