Togo warms up for presidential election on February 22

Kenya's polls body

Some Togolese are upbeat about the impending presidential elections in the country though many do not think it would be different from previous elections, with some predicting victory for the incumbent President, Faure Gnassingbe.

Some locals said until the sitting President opted out of the February 22 race, no other candidate would win.

President Gnassingbe has been in office since 2005, following the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema who ruled Togo for 38 years after overthrowing the country’s second president, Nicolas Grunitzky, in a coup d’état in 1967.

He won re-election in 2010 and a third term five years later and now bidding for a fourth term.

In September 2017, Togo’s 14-party opposition coalition rejected a government bill to restore a two-term presidency that would not be retroactive, thus, allowing Gnassingbé to run again in 2020 and 2025.

A tour by Ghana News Agency (GNA) to some towns in Togo showed little signs that the election was just weeks away with many, including those in academia unsure of the candidature of Mr Faure Gnassingbe.

Mr Gali Agbayi, Deputy Chairman, Segbe branch of Transport Union of Togo said, “…for the election, I know President Gnassingbe is going again though there are issues, but I don’t know the names and the number of people in the race with him”.

At Akato, some residents expressed knowledge of the election, while others said though they knew about the election, the exact date was unknown to them.

Two of those interviewed, masons who declined disclosing their identities, said they would not waste their time to vote because they saw the election as a mere formality because “whether we vote or we don’t vote, we know who is winning”.

But Madam Adzo Logoh, a waakye seller, said she would make time to vote on the day, whether it made any change or not because that “is my civic right.”

At Akodessewa, a commercial hub, Mr Gilbert Kossi, a businessman, said the youth especially had “no business to do with politics but to mind their own business, to ensure they have money to pay for rent, food, and importantly, to live in peace.”

Mr Kossi spoke of insanitary conditions not just at Akodessewa but other parts of the country, saying, this and other developmental challenges meant nothing to the government, but the taxes they would get from the citizens.

Reports in Togo media suggest that some eight persons who had declared their interests to contest the presidential election later opted out of the race slated for next month.

They are Mr Gerry Taama, the 2015 Presidential candidate of the New Togolese Commitment (NET), Mr Nicolas Lawson, the 2010 Presidential candidate of the Party of Renewal and Redemption (PRR) and Dr. Jean-Emmanuel Gnagnon, Democratic Forces for the Republic (FDR).

Others are Dr Christian Spieker, the Germano-Togolese, Apostle Sodji Gabriel, founder of the International Church of the Favoured of God, Pastor Edoh Komi of the Martin Luther King Movement (MMLK).

Some of the candidates renounced their candidacy claiming the current political atmosphere was not favourable.

The remaining two, Dovi Soter-Caius and Gamessou Kpodar renounced their candidature in order to support Dr. Agbéyomé Kodjo, the sole opposition candidate being proposed by Bishop Philippe Fanoko Kpodzro, an 89-year old critic of the Gnassingbe regime.

Already, some opposition parties including the Togolese Alternative Bloc for Republican Innovation (BATIR) have declared support for the President.

It is expected that Togo’s Electoral Commission (CENI) will in the next few days, make public the final list of the presidential candidates for the start of the electoral campaign on February 06.

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