- demonstrations - elections - Togo
Thousands demonstrate against President Gnassingbe's re-election
Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets of Togo's capital Saturday to protest against the re-election of President Faure Gnassingbe. His main rival in the March 4 poll, Jean-Pierre Fabre, claims the vote was stolen.
AFP - Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets of Togo's capital on Saturday to protest against the re-election of President Faure Gnassingbe, with his opponent claiming the vote was stolen.
His main rival in the March 4 poll, Jean-Pierre Fabre, led the peaceful protest along with other officials from the opposition Union of Forces for Change (UFC).
Fabre has rejected the results showing Gnassingbe, whose father General Gnassingbe Eyadema ruled the west African nation with an iron fist for 38 years until his death in 2005, won with 61 percent of the vote.
Fabre claims to have won between 55 and 60 percent.
"We will not leave the those in power to do what they like. That is finished... Today we call for national resistance to reclaim our victory. With you, we are sure to reclaim it," he told his supporters.
Placards carried by protesters read "Enough is enough", "Let us save democracy" and "Togo people, free yourselves".
The march, which began at 1000 GMT at the popular Be district where the UFC headquarters is located, moved through the city's streets and then to the beach where a meeting was held.
The protesters later dispersed peacefully.
The opposition has staged several protests recently to denounce the poll results, with security agents using teargas to disperse several of the marches.
The Constitutional Court confirmed Thursday the results of the election, saying Fabre took 34 percent of the vote.
The vote was peaceful, unlike the 2005 poll when hundreds were killed in clashes, and was seen as a test of democratic progress in the nation of 6.5 million people, though some observers expressed doubts over the election.
The head of west African bloc ECOWAS has congratulated Gnassingbe on his re-election and the opposition for the peaceful polls, the body said Saturday.
During a one-day official visit to Togo, James Victor Gbeho held "extensive" talks with Gnassingbe on "matters associated with the conduct of the election and its aftermath," ECOWAS said in a statement.
Although aspects of the election have been criticised, Gbeho said, it was the consensus of the international community, including ECOWAS, that the presidential election had been free and fair.