Sunday, April 26, 2015

No Election Fever in Togo

President Faure Gnassingbe is looking to continue his family's 48-year rule of Togo in elections held on Saturday. Turnout was low, close to 40 percent, according to local election observers. Faure Gnassingbe, 48, has been in power since his father Gnassingbe Eyadema died in office in 2005 after ruling Togo with an iron fist for 38 years. The election is a two-horse race between Faure Gnassingbe and Jean-Pierre Fabre who unsuccessfully stood against Faure Gnassingbe in 2010. Last year, opposition protests failed to bring about constitutional changes limiting the president to two terms in office - a move that would have prevented Mr Gnassingbe from standing.

Togo's GDP has more than doubled since 2005 and economic growth reached 5.6% in 2014. But critics say the benefits have mainly gone to a wealthy minority, while most ordinary Togolese still suffer from high poverty and unemployment rates. 2011 statistics show 58% of the population lived on less than a dollar a day, and while official figures put the jobless rate at 6%, many believe the actual figure is much higher. Unemployment disproportionately affects the young, who make up a rapidly growing percentage of Togo's population.

"I have lived nearly my whole life with this regime. The regime has to go," said Ama Yambila, a mother of seven. 

"There is no work!" said 55-year-old Martin Assouvi, a Fabre supporter. "We are suffering."

Tsomana Yovo Aki, a 57-year-old motorcycle taxi driver, said he was voting for an opposition candidate, though he declined to specify which one. He said he was worried about the high cost of living and poor public services, especially in the country's hospitals. "We need a change at the head of the government so that another can come to power and show us his style of governing," Aki said

Togo is the most unhappy country in the world, closely followed by Burundi, Benin and Rwanda, a study finds.

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