Togolese are anxiously waiting for the provisional results of the February 22 presidential election to know the new president to lead the country for the next five years.
Togo’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), led by Mr Tchambakou Ayassor, is promising to release provisional results on Monday, February 24.
The Electoral Commission is, however, expected to declare the final results from the country’s 9,376 voting centres within a week for the Constitutional Court’s validation.
Seven persons including the incumbent President Faure Gnassingbe of the Union for the Republic (UNIR), Mr Jean-Pierre Fabre, National Alliance for Change (ANC), and Dr Agbeyome Kodjo of Patriotic Movement for Democracy and Development (MPDD), are in the race.
In parts of the capital, Lome, where the Ghana News Agency (GNA) visited, counting of ballots ended around 1800 hours at various polling stations after the polls, which started at 0700 hours and ended at 1600 hours.
At Kodjoviakope Public School Polling Station (with 10 separate centres), Kodzoviakope RC School (with seven centres) and Nyekonakpoe EP Basic School, having four centres, Dr Agbeyome Kodjo was in the lead by the provisional results.
Dr Kodjo was a Prime Minister under President Gnassingbe’s father and he is a candidate proposed by influential Catholic Bishop, Philippe Fanoko Kpodzro.
Some voters who were at the centres to observe the counting told the GNA that they were in constant communication with friends and family from other parts of the country as a way of monitoring the processes.
Mr Michael Gbogbo, an entrepreneur said: “We appreciate the electoral reforms we’ve witnessed this year including leaving our borders opened but the most important thing is that the CENI should give us the results as they are, they should not engage in any electoral fraud as in the past.”
“The results are speaking volumes and we expect our authorities to respect the decision of the Togolese people and allow the one we have chosen to be our president.”
The GNA observed that counting of ballots was done in the full glare of the public where CENI officials showed ballot papers to voters for confirmation before another official stationed at the chalkboard, was allowed to tick a point against a candidate for onward tallying.
Shortly after the polls, there were reports that security forces had sealed off the home of Dr Agbeyome Kodjo but the security responded that it did so to protect the opposition candidate.
The February 22 presidential election, the first presidential polls after constitutional changes occasioned by anti-government protests in 2017, will require a 50 per cent and over votes for a winner to emerge, failure by which a run-off between the two top candidates would be held in weeks.