Togo President Faure Gnassingbe declared an electoral victory as official preliminary results showed him re-elected in a landslide with an opposition candidate also claiming victory and calling the result a “masquerade”.
Glassingbe’s win, if confirmed, will give him a fourth five-year term and extend a family dynasty that began when his father took power in a 1967 coup. Some Togolese worry a contested outcome could lead to political violence.
Preliminary figures released by the electoral commission showed Gnassingbe winning with 72% of the vote, with his main opponent, former prime minister Gabriel Messan Agbeyome Kodjo, at 18%. Longtime opposition leader Jean-Pierre Fabre received four percent Final results are expected in the coming days.
“To my unlucky adversaries, I would like to tell them, this is the game of democracy,” Gnassingbe told supporters. “Let’s stop improvising, stop inventing imaginary numbers and submit to the judgment of the Togolese people.”
Kodjo repeated the claim that his camp’s tallies showed him winning. He said before results were announced he had won around 60% of the vote.
“We’re calling on the Togolese people to mobilise and show disapproval of this election masquerade,” he told reporters.
Under the law, Kodjo has 72 hours after the results were announced to officially contest the outcome with the Supreme Court. It was not clear if he planned to do so.
Togo has seen protests in the past by demonstrators who say the president illegally outstayed his welcome. When Gnassingbe came to power in 2005 mass protests against the family’s rule were met with a violent police crackdown during which at least 500 people were killed.
The streets of the capital Lome were calm on Monday. Schools reopened and students were in class.
Many citizens doubt the results. Afi Amedzro, a 38-year-old woman working in micro-finance, blamed Gnassingbe’s party for cheating.
“They are arrogant vote thieves,” she said. “What we saw on Saturday at polling stations is more than enough to give victory to Agbeyome Kodjo.”
Another five-year term for Gnassingbe would be a blow to Togo’s fractured opposition, desperate for change but unable to launch a concerted political campaign against the president.