Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Gnassingbe Larceny

Gnassingbe has been "elected" Togo's "new" "President", with election results from this weekend showing him at 60% of the vote and 38% of the vote for the leading opposition candidate. Here's a recap on what happened with Togo so far from a previous post of mine. Gnassingbe is essentially attempting to "inherit" his father's President-for-Life position as ruler of Togo for 38 years before he died. So how is the opposition taking it? According to allafrica.com:

"Protesters threw up flaming barricades across Togo's capital and a furious opposition urged people to resist after Faure Gnassingbe, son of the late long-ruling president, was declared winner of a presidential poll marred by violence and fraud allegations.

Minutes after the announcement of Gnassingbe's victory on state radio and television on Tuesday, an IRIN correspondent saw crowds of angry youths spill onto the streets of the capital Lome, some waving machetes and hurling stones."


Damn. Not too pleased. Nigeria is trying to broker some sort of compromise between Gnassingbe and the opposition, pushing Gnassingbe to form a unity government. That's unlikely to appease the opposition, especially given the fact that the final vote was missing votes from a full 700 polling stations destroyed during election violence on Sunday. Also, there're widespread reports of Gnassingbe's hoods destroying and seizing ballots. All signs point to stolen, but since this country has the unfortunate problem of being located in Africa, where apparently nascent democracy is ignored (see also, "Zimbabwe") and election fraud not as important as in places like the Ukraine, Lebanon, and Kyrgyzstan. At least South Africa's Mbeki isn't acting as a bagman for Gnassingbe in this case, the Togolese at least have that going for them.

Whether the opposition truly does have the edge or not, this violence and unrest is unlikely to die down and the population hasn't seemed to care much for Gnassingbe since he came to power. Hopefully this hereditary monarchy in disguise will end soon. It would be nice to at least here some U.S. official question this election result, at least to pay lip service to the importance of democracy in Africa's future.