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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 April, 2005, 07:57 GMT 08:57 UK
US urges free and fair Togo poll
An opposition supporter armed with a motorbike exhaust roams the streets of the mainly opposition neighbourhood of the Togo capital, Lome. (22 April 2005)
At least seven people have died during political rallies
The US has expressed "deep concern" about Togo's presidential poll after a minister was sacked for suggesting Sunday's vote should be called off.

Interior Minister Francois Boko called for elections to be postponed saying that they could spark civil war.

Hundreds have taken part in violent political rallies in the capital and at least seven people have been killed.

The US said the international community would be scrutinising Togo's balloting and vote-counting process.

'Violence'

"The US notes with deep concern allegations by the Togolese Interior Minister that call into question the credibility of this Sunday's presidential election," deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said.

He said the US was concerned because of Togo's history and "persistent reports from within Togo about the prospects for violence and [...] irregularities in voting procedures and tabulations."

Mr Boko's warning on Thursday night that to hold the polls would be "suicidal" was praised by opposition leaders.

They argue electoral reforms are needed to make the polls free and fair.

But interim President Abbas Bonfoh immediately announced a cabinet reshuffle and confirmed that the polls would go ahead on Sunday as planned.

The vote was called after an international outcry forced Faure Gnassingbe, installed by the military in February, to step down.

He took power after the death of his father, long-serving President Gnassingbe Eyadema.

'Extraordinary'

"I have a mission to organise elections within 60 days in line with the constitution. So that I can continue, I'm going to have to reshuffle my government. The interior minister will be changed," Mr Bonfoh announced, saying he was "surprised" by Mr Boko's call.

Supporters of Faure Gnassingbe
Mr Faure's campaign has been well financed

Mr Boko is a a former military man and a political heavyweight, whose ministry is responsible for conducting the election.

Exiled opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio returned to Togo to campaign last weekend but is barred from running for president because of controversial residency requirements.

He is campaigning for Mr Akitani, vice-president of his Union of Forces for Change party.


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