Togo’s Ruling Party Wins Majority Seats In Legislative Elections

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Togo’s ruling party Union for the Republic Party (UNIR) has won a majority of seats in the country’s legislative elections held on 29 April.

Provisional results published late Saturday by the Electoral Commission showed the ruling party had won 108 out of the 113 seats in parliament.

Voting took place against the backdrop of heightened political tension following the approval earlier in April of a controversial new constitution and a series of crackdowns on opposition protests.

The results pave the way for President Faure Gnassingbé to extend his 19-year rule, under the new charter.

It will allow him to take the newly created post of “president of the council of ministers”, a role similar to the prime minister that is automatically assumed by the leader of the majority party in parliament.

Under the previous constitution, Gnassingbé would have been able to run for president just one more time.

This would have potentially allowed him to stay on as head of state, for a five-year term starting in 2025.

Opposition parties said the new post will allow him to avoid these terms limits and extend his family’s decades-long grip on power, as long UNIR continues winning most seats in the national assembly.

After boycotting the last legislative election, they had been hoping to gain more seats in parliament enabling them to challenge UNIR.

Regional observers have said that on the whole they were satisfied with how the election was conducted, but opposition parties have denounced what they say were irregularities in the vote.

Gnassingbé took control of Togo in 2005 when his father, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, died after ruling the country for almost 40 years.