Counting of Vote That May Cement Togo Family Dynasty Reign Starts

(Bloomberg) -- Ballot counting in Togo’s parliamentary vote that may cement the family dynasty of President Faure Gnassingbé in power got underway Monday.

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The ruling Union for the Republic party is widely expected to win a majority of the 113 seats being contested in the National Assembly. The party currently dominates parliament, having almost 65% of the seats. The final results from the polls will be released within a week, according to the National Independent Electoral Commission.

The vote came after lawmakers backed a recent controversial constitutional change that critics say paves the way for Gnassingbé to extend his family’s 57-year-rule.

“It’s a desire of the party in power to hold on to power for a long time, since they’re sure to win legislative elections,” said Firmin Teko Agbo, a political analyst at Lome-based Centre for Research and International Geopolitics. “Everything is being done to ensure that Faure Gnassingbé stays in power.”

That amendment makes the president of the republic a largely ceremonial post and transfers real power to the president of a council of ministers. The role will be filled by the leader of the largest party in the new parliament and will have a renewable six-year mandate without term limits.

Togo’s main opposition party, the Union of Forces for Change, praised the conduct of the April 29 vote.

The UFC “salutes the maturity shown by Togolese citizens throughout this crucial period for the country’s democracy,” it said in a statement. “The UFC calls on all the parties to maintain a climate of calm and serenity until the proclamation of the results. It also encourages a peaceful settlement of any disputes, in accordance with the laws in force, and with respect for democratic order and the rule of law.”

Gnassingbé, 57, has ruled Togo since the 2005 death in office of his father, Gnassingbé Eyadema, who seized power in a coup in 1967.

His ruling UNIR, as the party is known by its French acronym, has 59 of the 91 seats in the current parliament, which will be expanded to 113 after Monday’s vote.

Read More: Family Dynasty Hatches Plan to Indefinitely Rule Togo After Vote

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