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Calm returns to Lome ahead of planned opposition protest

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-03-08

Shops and businesses in Lome reopened on Monday, a day after street protests followed the announcement that President Faure Gnassingbé had been re-elected. The Togolese opposition has called for a large protest march on Tuesday.

AFP - Shops and offices reopened Monday in Lome after outgoing President Faure Gnassingbe was declared the winner of a presidential poll, but some residents were uneasy ahead of a planned opposition protest.
   
Stalls in the Hedzeranawoe market, one of the biggest in the capital, were open for business, but in the same district the head of a private primary school told AFP that he was asking his pupils "to stay at home on Tuesday."
   
The opposition has vowed to hold a big protest march on Tuesday, after the electoral commission on Saturday announced that Gnassingbe had won Thursday's election with 60.92 percent of the votes, while his main rival, Jean-Pierre Fabre, took 33.94 percent.
   
Fabre has refused to recognise his defeat and claimed that Gnassingbe won the election by fraud.
   
His Union of Forces for Change (UFC) and three other small opposition rally parties have called people out on Tuesday to a march followed by a rally, "to protest at the fraudulent results of the presidential poll of March 4." They have threatened to march every day.
   
On Sunday, armed riot police violently put down a demonstration by more than 200 opposition supporters, while Fabre himself was forced to take shelter in the UFC headquarters.
   
He denounced the "brutality and savage treatment" by the regime of Faure Gnassingbe, who was first put in power in 2005 by the military upon the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had ruled for 38 years.
   
"The opposition never recognises when they are defeated, they are egoists," said a stew vendor, Mazalo Sizing, plying her trade Monday close to the headquarters of the ruling Togolese People's Rally.
   
"Our opposition needs to realise that it is badly organised and that's the reason for its failure."
   
The weekly L'Eveil, headlined "Fabre Bad Loser," echoed the view of the government's spokesman Pascal Bodjona. The paper said the UFC leader lacked "tangible proof" of his allegations of fraud.
   
UFC deputy leader Patrick Lawson has said there would be protests every day.
   
Fabre accused the national independent electoral agency CENI of falsifying the results of the poll, seen as a test of democracy for Togo, which has been ruled for more than four decades by the same dynasty.
   
"We're preparing to march ourselves as well, because the street belongs to everybody," said a Gnassingbe partisan, Hubert Ezin.
   
In 2005, Gnassingbe stepped down after the army put him in power to stand for election, in a vote he won but which led to a wave of violence when between 400 and 500 people were killed, according to the United Nations.
   
Thursday's election passed off without major violence but observers from the regional Economic Community of West African States reported problems with ballot papers and a dozen opposition activists have been arrested since Saturday.
   
The paper Le Flambeau des Democrates said there was a "demobilisation of UFC supporters" during the vote because people "remembered the post-electoral violence of April 2005."
   
"It's a secret from nobody that the people wants change, (but) people preferred to stay at home rather than go to vote," the paper surmised.

 

Date created : 2010-03-08

  • TOGO

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