Togolese headed to the polls, on Thursday, to vote in legislative elections amid an ongoing political crisis and increasing demands to end the 50-year rule of the Gnassingbe family.
With a group of 14 opposition parties boycotting the election altogether and saying it will be rigged, the ruling party coalition is expected to maintain its two-thirds majority.
The opposition grouping, which calls itself the C14, has been organising anti-government protests since August 2017 and has mobilised hundreds of thousands of demonstrators.
The protests have at times been violently quashed by security forces.
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However, things were quiet in the capital, Lome, on Thursday with bars and restaurants closed.
Some 850 candidates are competing for 91 seats in Togo’s National Assembly, most of which belong to the ruling party coalition, Rally of the Togolese People/Union of the Republic (PTR/UNIR).
President Faure Gnassingbe has ruled the poverty-stricken country with an iron fist since he took over from his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, after contested elections in 2005.
Gnassingbe Eyadema, one of Africa’s longest-serving rulers, was in power for almost 40 years, from 1967 until his death in 2005.
Gnassingbe’s government has been responsible for arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and other ill-treatment, according to human rights watchdog, Amnesty International.
Togo is one of the world’s poorest countries with more than half of the population living on less than 1.25 dollars a day, according to the World Food Programme. (NAN)