Saturday, March 5, 2005

Togo Elections are Set for April 24

Election date is set, but ECOWAS says April 24 is too soon and doesn't leave enough time to prepare for "free and fair voting." And it's not just a matter of time for campaigning or revising electoral lists.

"The opposition, which boycotted several earlier elections under Eyadema, has announced that it will contest the presidential vote.
But a coaliton of six opposition parties is still mulling whether to present a united front against Gnassingbe, who has already been chosen as the candidate of the ruling Rally of the Togolese People (RPT) party.
Gilchrist Olympio, the exiled leader of the main opposition party, the Union of Forces for Change (UFC), was prevented from standing against Eyadema in the 2003 presidential election. But Olympio said on Thursday that he intended to take on the dead leader's son.
"I am the candidate of my party," Olympio told IRIN by telephone from Paris where he has been living for several years.
"Of course the government we have and the constitutional court we have might not... let me stand," he said. "If they bar me, then... up to 74 percent of the Togolese electorate will be barred too."
BBC news has some other tidbits that explain a bit more:
"But under the constitution, candidates need to have lived in Togo for 12 months to stand as a presidential candidate, which bars Mr Olympio from standing.
Since a 1992 assassination attempt, Mr Olympio has lived in exile in Paris and was barred from taking part in the 2003 presidential elections because he did not live in Togo.
Leopold Messan Gnininvi, the spokesman for the six-party opposition alliance, described as regrettable the disqualification of Mr Olympio.
"We, his colleagues in the struggle for the restoration of democracy in Togo, will continue to show solidarity with Mr Olympio until we find a way of removing that prohibitive clause from the statute books," he said.
On Wednesday, Mr Olympio told the BBC he would give his support to whoever his party nominated.
"My 40-year struggle for the restoration of democracy in Togo is not a personal one.
"I will give my support to a candidate to be nominated by the party," he told BBC Afrique."

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