Togo’s Initial Vote Count Shows Family Dynasty on Track to Extend 57-Year Rule

(Bloomberg) -- Togo’s ruling party won a landslide in last week’s legislative elections, setting the stage for the family dynasty of President Faure Gnassingbé to extend its 57-year rule of the West African nation.

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Gnassingbé’s Union for the Republic party won 108 out of the 113 seats in the National Assembly, President of the National Independent Electoral Commission Yabre Dago, said in Lome, the capital. The Alliance of Democrats for Integral Development won two seats while one seat each was taken by Democratic Forces for the Republic, National Alliance for Change and the Dynamic People’s Majority, Dago said.

The April 29 vote was held barely a week after lawmakers backed a controversial constitutional amendment that provides for the nation’s president to play a largely ceremonial role, and for real power to be transferred to the head of a council of ministers. That position will be appointed by the largest party in the new parliament, who is almost certain to be Gnassingbé, and have a renewable six-year mandate without term limits.

“There’s no doubt that this project was initiated by Faure and for Faure,” said Mohamed Madi Djabakate, a Lome-based independent political scientist and consultant, before the declaration of provisional results. “Faure Gnassingbé is seeking to maintain his grip on power by using this constitutional reform to his advantage”

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 UNIR, as the party is known by its French acronym, also held outright majority in the former 91-seat National Assembly, which has been expanded to 113 seats in this election.

(Recasts with release of provisional results.)

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