Togo ruling party wins most seats in parliamentary elections    

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By AFP

Togo President Faure Gnassingbe’s party won most seats in parliamentary elections, according to provisional results on Monday, in polls overshadowed by pre-ballot clashes and an opposition boycott.

But the party will need support from other legislators to secure a fourth-fifths majority for constitutional change giving President Gnassingbe the chance of staying in power beyond 2020.

His Union for the Republic (UNIR) won 59 of the 91 National Assembly seats in the December 20 legislative polls, the provisional results said.

The closely-watched election saw the 14-party opposition coalition, C-14, refuse to take part, condemning the playing field as skewed.

“The coalition and the people have rejected any notion of elections in the prevailing conditions,” Nathaniel Olympio, head of the Party of the Togolese, told AFP.

Struggle continues

“The results don’t correspond to the wishes of the Togolese who didn’t take part,” he added.

“The struggle continues and will get even tougher after these elections.”

The provisional figures will now head to the Constitutional Court, which will have a week to proclaim definitive results after discussing any challenges.

The vote went ahead last Thursday after a year of political upheaval which saw demonstrators demanding Gnassingbe step down during dozens of marches, sometimes with a large turnout.

President Gnassingbe has been in power since 2005 after succeeding his father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled the country with an iron fist for 38 years.

Passing laws

Earlier this month, at least four people were killed when opposition supporters and security forces clashed in the capital Lome and several other cities. The opposition put the figure at six dead.

UNIR previously held 62 seats and had hoped to secure 73, the threshold for passing laws unchallenged, including changes to the constitution paving the way for Gnassingbe to run for office in 2020 and 2025.

The ruling party’s 59 seats were thus below its target but it will be supported by its main ally, the Union of Change Forces (UFC) of former opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio, who has six MPs. Other independent MPs can also lend support.

A total of 850 candidates for 12 political parties, plus independents, took part in the election.

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