An assessment conducted by the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) has labeled Togo’s electoral register as “reliable,” a crucial step ahead of the imminent legislative and regional elections. The evaluation, carried out by a team of three experts in Lomé from October 20 to 27, 2023, aimed at verifying the transparency and accuracy of the electoral roll.
Togo, a West African country led by President Faure Gnassingbé since 2005, is preparing for crucial elections amid heightened political tensions. The ruling Union for the Republic faces a challenge from a galvanized opposition.
Although the exact election date remains unspecified, President Faure Gnassingbé hinted at their occurrence within the year during the New Year’s address on December 31. The nation has experienced political stability and continuity since Faure Gnassingbé succeeded his father, General Eyadéma Gnassingbé, who ruled with an iron grip for 38 years.
The audit, initiated at Togolese authorities’ request, involved collaboration between the electoral commission, OIF experts, major political party representatives, and Togolese civil society. The findings, presented by Désiré Nyaruhirira, special adviser to the Secretary of La Francophonie, concluded that the electoral register is reliable enough to support forthcoming elections in an atmosphere of trust.
“Experts conducted an independent and thorough analysis of Togo’s legal and operational framework, technical and computer systems, and electoral demographics,” stated Nyaruhirira during a press conference.
The audit report was officially delivered to Dago Yabré, president of the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI). This development holds significance as Togolese opposition has historically contested the credibility of the electoral register ahead of elections.
In 2015, the OIF dispatched a team of experts to Lomé to assist the electoral commission amidst strong opposition contentions. The opposition had previously boycotted the 2018 legislative elections, citing irregularities and advising supporters against registering on the voter lists.
This time around, opposition leaders strategically mobilized supporters during the recent census conducted from April 29 to June 14, 2023, resulting in a notable turnout at voter card distribution centers countrywide.
Brigitte Adjamagbo-Johnson, coordinator of the Dynamic for the Majority of the People (DMP), a coalition of opposition parties and civil society organizations, highlighted the operation’s importance. “It’s a critical operation for us, aiming to establish a reliable electoral register and enroll the maximum number of eligible voters,” she expressed to AFP on April 29.
As Togo anticipates the impending elections, the OIF’s endorsement of the electoral register’s reliability instills confidence in the electoral process, setting the stage for a closely observed political contest in the West African nation.