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Q&A: Togo presidential election

Supporters of Togolese opposition presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Fabre
Supporters of Togolese opposition candidate Jean-Pierre Fabre in Lome

Togo - one of Africa's smallest and poorest countries - is preparing to vote in a tightly policed election, widely seen as a test of its democratic progress.

Why is security so tight?

The authorities are making efforts to avoid a repeat of the violence which blighted the 2005 poll.

The government has been sending teams around Togo to explain to the people the causes of election violence and how to avoid it.

In addition, some 6,000 security forces (3,000 police, 3,000 gendarmes) will be deployed across the country.

The security forces - who voted on 1 March - have received sensitivity training in dealing with the public.

They will be backed up by a multinational force from the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

The country successfully staged a parliamentary election in 2007.

How does the system work?

The constitution provides for the election of the president in one round by a simple majority of the votes cast. All citizens aged 18 and over are eligible to vote. Polling stations will be open from 0700 to 1700.

Candidates must be at least 35 years old and only have Togolese nationality. They must pay a deposit of some 44,000 dollars, an amount that has been criticised by some opposition parties.

The process is overseen by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), which is made up of ruling and opposition politicians, members of civil society and the administration.

CENI receives financial support from the EU, Germany, France, the US and the UNDP.

Who are the candidates?

Faure Gnassingbe (43): (Rally of the Togolese People party (RPT)). President Faure won the 2005 election - called after the international community rejected his bid to take over the country's leadership on the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema - but many died in protests sparked by allegations of vote-rigging. The RPT holds 49 of 81 parliamentary seats.

Jean-Pierre Fabre (57): (Union of Forces for Change (UFC)). Mr Fabre was a late replacement for UFC leader Gilchrist Olympio, who dropped his latest bid for the presidency due to health problems. The UFC is the main opposition party with 27 MPs. Mr Olympio, the son of the assassinated first president of Togo, has returned to Lome to "nudge Jean-Pierre Fabre ... in the right direction", as he put it.

Mensa Agbeyome Kodjo (55): (Organization for the Construction of a United Togo (OBUTS)). He has served as prime minister and claims to be the natural heir to President Eyadema despite spending time in exile during the latter's reign.

Bassabi Kagbara (67): (Pan-African Democratic Party (PDP)). Mr Kagbara holds a doctorate in law and is an educationalist and former trade unionist.

Brigitte Adjamagbo-Johnson (51): (Democratic Convention of African Peoples (CDPA)). Mrs Adjamagbo-Johnson is the first woman to contest a presidential election in Togo. She holds a doctorate in law and has been a politician since the early 1990s, including a stint as a minister.

Nicolas Lawson (56): (Party for Renewal and Redemption (PRR)). Mr Lawson is a businessman turned politician, who stood in the past two presidential elections.

Yawovi Agboyibo (66): (Action Committee for Renewal (CAR)). Mr Agboyibo briefly held the premiership of a prospective unity government but resigned after RPT won the 2007 election. CAR hold only four seats.

How was the campaign?

Campaigning - from 16 February to midnight on 2 March - has largely passed off smoothly.

One minister criticised opposition candidates for making "provocative" remarks, and Mr Lawson has accused President Gnassingbe of using state resources in his campaigning.

But the president has called for a peaceful election and the government has pledged to support the code of good conduct for the election.

The run-up to the election has been confusing for onlookers, with first a bid to field a single opposition candidate which fizzled out due to lack of support from other opposition leaders.

This was followed by a postponement of polling day from 28 February to 4 March. The change was made at the request of the opposition, but failed to satisfy some candidates' worries over whether the voters' register would be ready in time.

Three candidates said they would not take part in the election, only changing their minds after changes were made to the voting process.

Who will monitor the vote?

The African Union is sending a delegation led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. They will monitor the election with counterparts from the European Union, ECOWAS, Francophone countries and Togolese and foreign NGOs.

The US gave $150,000 (£100,000) to help with election training and the EU and other development partners contributed equipment.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.



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SEE ALSO
Togo country profile
07 May 11 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Togo
07 May 11 |  Country profiles

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