Gnassingbe likely to be sole contestant in Togo election

Faure Gnassingbe

With about six weeks to Togo’s presidential election, there are hardly any signs of political campaign, as many Togolese remain unsure of the election fixed for February 22, 2020 being held.

Checks by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) indicate that only President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe of the Union for the Republic (UNIR) Party, has declared interest in the election.

The opposition parties appear not to be ready – unable to settle on a candidate.

Gerry Komandega Taama, President of the New Togolese Commitment (NET) Party, recently announced in a press statement that he had pulled out of the race, saying, “attempting the presidential adventure, under current conditions is very uncertain due to the lack of preparation of the other opposition parties…”

Apostle Sodji Gabriel, Founder of “The Favoured of God” Church, another aspirant, reportedly, has ‘thrown in the towel’, diverting his bond (FCFA 20 million) to support the poor. He claimed the political atmosphere did not allow him to remain in the contest.

The Togolese Alternative Bloc for Republican Innovation (BATIR) Party says it is backing the ruling UNIR.

Dr Agbeyome Messan Gabriel Kodjo, a former Prime Minister, (2000 to 2002) and Founder of the Movements of Patriots for Democracy and Development (MPDD) appears to be President Gnassingbe’s sole contender but he is more likely to chicken out soon.

The January 08, 2020 deadline for filing of nomination for the presidential election, is past and indications are that, President Faure Gnassingbe would stand unopposed, for the fourth time, courtesy a contested constitutional amendment passed by the Togolese Assembly last May.

In Lome, Togo’s capital, there is nothing to suggest that there is an impending election – virtually no discussions of the polls in the media.

Two months ago, Catholic Bishops in Togo called for electoral reforms.

This followed agitations by the opposition parties and Togolese in the diaspora, for President Faure Gnassingbe to step down. He has been in office since 2005 after his father, President Gnassingbe Eyadema died. Gnassignbe ruled Togo for 38 years.

In 2017, the coalition of opposition parties in Togo rejected a government bill to restore two-term presidency, which allows President Faure Gnassingbe to contest for the presidency in 2020 and 2025. It also grants him immunity for acts committed during his tenure in office.

The controversy over the bill, forced the opposition parties to boycott the 2018 Parliamentary elections.

Source: GNA

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