Six candidates to run against Togo president in February vote

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By Agencies

Six candidates will run against Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe in a presidential election next month, the Constitutional Court said Friday.

The West African country was plunged into political crisis in 2017 and 2018 as protesters demanded term limits for Gnassingbe, who took power in 2015 after his authoritarian father had ruled for 38 years.

However, last year parliament voted for a constitutional change that allowed Gnassingbe, who first became head of state in 2005, to run for a fourth term in the February 22 vote.

He will need to beat six candidates, including Jean-Pierre Fabre, veteran opposition leader and president of the National Alliance for Change (ANC), and Kodjo Agbeyome, head of the Patriotic Movement for Democracy and Development (MPDD).

Fabre alleged massive fraud after he was defeated by Gnassingbe in the last election in 2015, rejecting the official result.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) said last week that 10 candidates had submitted applications to run.

But the Constitutional Court said on Friday that two of the candidates had an insufficient number of voter signatures, while a third withdrew from the race.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in 2017 and 2018 in demonstrations that were violently repressed by security forces, with 15 killed and hundreds arrested, according to unofficial figures.

Around 10,000 police officers and security members of the Presidential Election Security Force (FOSEP) will be deployed across the country to ensure the safety of the February vote.