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Last Updated: Monday, 2 June, 2003, 08:00 GMT 09:00 UK
Togo election fraud alleged
President Gnassingbe Eyadema
Eyadema had said he would step down
The main opposition party in Togo has denounced a presidential election on Sunday as a "massive fraud".

Voters went to the polls with Africa's longest-serving leader, President Gnassingbe Eyadema, looking set to secure another five-year term.

After 36 years in power, Mr Eyadema had promised to stand down.

But following changes to the constitution last year permitting him to run for a third term, he announced he would stand again.

Correspondents say Mr Eyadema was likely to be re-elected after his main rival, Gilchrist Olympio, was barred from running.

Clashes

Fraud allegations came late Sunday, when the opposition Union of Forces for Change (UFC) party alleged there had been irregularities even before the votes were counted.

"The UFC can only demand a re-run of the election but we will take our decision in the coming days," secretary general Jean-Pierre Fabre told a press conference.

The opposition had failed to present a united front, and had five candidates challenging President Eyadema.

TOGO ELECTIONS
President Eyadema in power since 1967
Opposition leader barred from poll
5,296 polling stations
EU aid frozen

Despite a relatively peaceful vote, there have been reports of some violence in the southern town of Tsevie, some 30km from the capital, Lome.

Militant opposition supporters reportedly burnt down the mayor's office, after it was rumoured that ballot boxes had been stuffed by supporters of President Eyadema, well before voting started.

Observers say there were clashes between governing and opposition party supporters and that two polling stations were damaged.

Poor human rights

Early on Sunday, millions of Togolese heeded the call to begin queuing up to cast their ballots.

There were just 187 international observers for 5,000 polling stations.

The European Union and the United Nations refused to send observers, and human rights groups have expressed concerns that the country could be plunged into chaos.

Mr Eyadema seized power in 1967 and has survived several attempts to kill him.

The EU froze aid to Togo 10 years ago over the country's lack of democracy and poor human rights record.




SEE ALSO:
Togo exile loses appeal
07 May 03  |  Africa
Africa's big men and the ballot
30 Dec 02  |  Africa
Togo poll without opposition
25 Oct 02  |  Africa


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