Youths hurled rocks and set up blazing barricades in Togo's capital yesterday after Faure Gnassingbe, son of the late authoritarian leader, was declared the winner of a presidential vote his rivals say was fixed. Plumes of black smoke rose into the sky over the coastal city as riot police armed with stun grenades and rubber bullets fired tear gas and played cat-and-mouse with groups of furious opposition supporters, surging forward to throw stones.
Gnassingbe, whose father Gnassingbe Eyadema died in February after ruling the West African country for 38 years, won 60.22% of the vote, according to provisional results announced by electoral commission chief Kissem Tchangai-Walla. Gnassingbe, a business-minded 39-year-old, stood for the ruling Rally of the Togolese People (RPT) party in the vote.
Togo voted on Sunday to pick a successor to former ruler Gnassingbe Eyadema, whose death in February after 38 years created a political crisis in the West African nation. Here are some facts about the country:
*Togo covers an area of 56,785 sq km (35,490 sq miles) in West Africa, making it slightly smaller than Sri Lanka. Togo stretches from the Atlantic in the south to landlocked Burkina Faso in the north and is flanked by Ghana and Benin.
*Togo was one of the more prosperous states in West Africa until its economy nose-dived in the 1990s – mainly because of political unrest. It produces phosphates and cotton.
Agriculture is by far the dominant activity and its Atlantic port in the capital Lome is a key outlet for landlocked neighbours.
*Togo's population is 5.5 million. About 35% are Christians, 15% Muslims and the rest follow African beliefs. The official language is French. Per capita income was $310 in 2003 and average life expectancy was 49.6 years, according to the World Bank.
*Togo today is made up of two-thirds of the German protectorate Togoland. The French and the British invaded in 1914 and after World War Two, the country was split into two United Nations-trust territories under French and British rule.
*In 1956, French Togo became an autonomous republic within the French Union and a year later British Togoland joined Ghana. Togo as it stands today became independent from France in 1960. *Togo's first president was killed in a 1963 coup led by a young soldier called Gnassingbe Eyadema, who seized power in his own name in 1967 and ruled for the next 38 years.
*Eyadema ruled virtually unchallenged. Rivals effectively boycotted presidential polls in 1993 and accused him of rigging a 1998 poll. His main opponent Gilchrist Olympio, son of Togo's murdered first president, was barred from 2003 elections and cannot stand in Sunday's poll as he lives in exile.
Chronology of Events
April 1960 - Togo achieves independence from France. April 1961 - Sylvanus Olympio becomes the first president of Togo after elections.
Jan 1963 - Olympio is assassinated in a coup led by Gnassingbe Eyadema, a young army officer. Four years later Eyadema proclaims himself president.
1969 - Eyadema declares the country a one-party state and founds the Rally of the Togolese People.
Jan 1972 - Togo votes overwhelmingly to keep Eyadema as president in a referendum.
1977 & 1986 - Coup attempts. Olympio's son Gilchrist is sentenced to death in absentia for his part in the 1986 coup. Dec 1986 - Eyadema is re-elected for a seven-year term with 99.9 percent of the vote.
April 1991 - Togo approves creation of political parties and an opposition coalition of 10 parties is formed in May. March 1993 - Another coup attempt against Eyadema.
August 1993 - Eyadema wins presidential election with 96.5% of the vote.
June 1998 - Presidential poll. Early signs suggest Eyadema has lost. The vote was suspended; the count did not take place. – Gilchrist Olympio says he won the poll. He had contested it from exile in Ghana. Accuses Eyadema of stealing the vote. – Authorities declare Eyadema the winner with 52.13% of votes, against 34% for runner-up Olympio.
Feb 2001 - A joint United Nations and OAU report says they are convinced Togolese security forces murdered, tortured and raped people after the 1998 election.
Dec 2002 - Constitution changed to allow Eyadema to run for a third mandate in 2003 presidential elections. June 2003 - Eyadema wins another five-year term in office.
Feb 5, 2005 - Eyadema, Africa's longest serving ruler, dies ending 38 years in power. Eyadema's son, Faure Gnassingbe, is named Togo's new leader by the army. The African Union says the move is unconstitutional Feb 6 - Parliament rubber-stamps Gnassingbe's appointment Feb 9 - An emergency summit of West African leaders says the transfer of power in Togo amounted to a coup and vows not to recognise any government assuming power in unconstitutional way.
Feb 19 - West African nations impose "full sanctions".
Feb 25 - African Union suspends Togo. Gnassingbe agrees to step down and hold elections. April 16 - Olympio, Togo's main opposition leader says his party will take part in presidential elections, but he may call a boycott if conditions worsen. – At least seven people are reported killed in Lome in clashes between rival political supporters.
April 24 - Togo holds presidential election.
April 26 – Faure Gnassingbe is elected president.
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