Togo election commission denounces irregularities

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LOME, Oct 21 (Reuters) Togo's national election commission said today it could not announce the full results of last week's parliamentary election because of apparent irregularities during vote-counting in the capital Lome.

The commission said more than half of 751 urns in the oceanside city had been delivered to counting centres without official seals and that results had been recorded from polling booths which did not appear on official lists.

''Given this situation and in an effort to maintain calm, the electoral commission has decided not to announce provisional results for Lome,'' it said in a statement broadcast on national radio.

The commission said it had handed the matter to the former French colony's constitutional court, the body responsible for confirming the final results and hearing any legal challenges.

Provisional results from most of Togo announced on Wednesday showed the ruling Rally of the Togolese People (RPT) won a majority of at least 49 of 81 parliamentary seats.

The opposition Union of Forces for Change (UFC) party won at least 21 seats, while another opposition party, the Action Committee for Renewal (CAR), won four seats. Electoral officials said voter turnout was 95 percent.

The UFC, which has in the past boycotted legislative polls and which was taking part for the first time in 13 years, has already denounced irregularities and filed a formal complaint.

''We will fight to the end to obtain the seats stolen by the RPT.

We've gone to the constitutional court and asked it to carry out a recount of votes,'' said Isabelle Ameganvi, the party's deputy secretary general.

International election observers have said last Sunday's polls were broadly free, fair and transparent.

Togolese authorities hope the election will lead to a full resumption of international aid to the country, which has suffered decades of authoritarian rule and periods of bloody unrest since independence in 1960.

The European Union, once Togo's biggest donor, froze most aid to the country in 1993, citing the poor democratic record of then President Gnassingbe Eyadema, an archetypal African ''Big Man'' who ruled Togo for four decades.

When he died in February 2005, the army named his son, Faure Gnassingbe, as president, violating the constitution and provoking violent protests in which hundreds of opposition supporters were killed by the security forces. Tens of thousands more fled the country.

After winning flawed and violent elections in 2005, Gnassingbe opened a dialogue with opposition parties and formed a national unity government, starting a democratic process that led to Sunday's multi-party elections.

REUTERS SKB PM1926

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