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Presidential Election - March 2010

On March 4, 2010 Togo held its presidential election, in which President Faure Gnassingbe was re-elected with over 60% of the vote. Organized by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) with the financial support of the European Union and technical support of the United Nations, the election was peaceful and deemed relatively free and fair by the international community, despite some major irregularities. The international community and UN experts were unanimous in their finding that the irregularities did not have an impact on the final outcome.

One major problem was the lack of experience and the politicization of the CENI. Composed of 17 members, 5 from parliamentary majority party (RPT), 5 parliamentary opposition (3 from the UFC and 2 from the CAR), 3 from the extra parliamentary opposition, 3 from civil society, and 1 representing the government, the CENI was supposed to be independent of political influence. Even though the CENI appeared to be balanced, in fact two of the members from the extra parliamentary opposition and two of the representatives of civil society were known to be allied with the RPT, thus giving the ruling party clear control over the CENI. As a result, the organization of the election was fraught with disagreement and delays.

Another problem was the lack of cohesion between the opposition parties. Initially committed to choosing a single candidate, they were never able to agree on whom that should be. The UFC insisted on having Gilchrist Olympio as their candidate, since he had been prohibited from running in previous elections, while the CAR felt that it was their turn as they had backed the UFC candidate in 2005. As a result, there were seven candidates running for president in the election, incumbent President Faure Gnassingbe and six opposition candidates. In addition, Gilchrist Olympio (by far the best known and most popular of the opposition candidates) was unable to run since, due to an accident while traveling in the United States, he did not submit his application within the legal deadline. Jean-Pierre Fabre, UFCs Secretary General, replaced Gilchrist Olympio as the partys candidate.

On 06 March 2010, the electoral commission released preliminary results announcing that President Faure Gnassingbe received roughly 60% of the vote. The nearest challenger, UFC candidate Jean-Pierre Fabre, only received about 33% of the vote. These results were confirmed by the Constitutional Court on March 18. However, even before the preliminary results were released, Jean Pierre Fabre proclaimed himself the winner and accused the RPT of stealing the election. Despite loud and frequent accusations of fraud, the opposition was unable to provide any evidence. Nonetheless, the opposition continued to express its disbelief of the results and organized numerous marches in the weeks following the election. Fortunately, these were predominately peaceful. In October 2010, Jean-Pierre Fabre resigned from the UFC and formed a new party, the National Alliance for Change (ANC).

Opposition party leaders in Togo met following the declaration of incumbent Faure Gnassingb as the winner of the 04 March 2010 presidential election with 60.9 percent of the vote. Runner-up Jean-Pierre Fabre called for protests and said he did not recognise the result. Fabre claimed to have obtained between 55 and 60 per cent of the vote but official results give him just 33.94 percent. He accused the official election authority, Ceni, of falsifying the results and breaking the law.

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