April 27, 2015 / 7:37 AM / in 4 years

Early Togo election results give president lead; rival cries foul

LOME (Reuters) - Togo’s main opposition candidate complained on Monday of widespread irregularities in Saturday’s presidential election and called for the announcement of results to be halted.

The hands of election workers are seen as they count votes of the 2015 presidential elections of Togo, in Lome, capital of Togo, April 25, 2015. REUTERS/Noel Kokou Tadegnon

Results issued earlier on Monday from six of 42 voting districts put President Faure Gnassingbe ahead with 64 percent of the vote and his nearest rival, Jean-Pierre Fabre, on 33 percent. The remaining votes were shared between the three other candidates.

Gnassingbe is widely favoured to win a third term, extending his family’s long hold on leadership. He has held power Togo since 2005, when his father died after 38 years in charge.

No more results had been issued by early evening.

However, Fabre’s CAP 2015 coalition sent a letter to Issoufou Taffa Tabiou, the head of the election commission, laying out a series of complaints over the process.

The letter said that the initial figures produced by the election commission did not match the results CAP 2015 members had recorded at polling stations.

Fabre’s party said that the number of votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters in at least nine constituencies — Binah, Tone, Cinkasse, Kozah, Bassar, Tchamba, Blitta, Sotouboua and Plaine de Moin — in the north, a stronghold for the president.

The letter also complained of intimidation, many people voting without elections card and an abuse of voting by proxy.

“All these irregularities are serious enough to undermine the credibility of the results in the (districts) mentioned above. As a result, I call on the election commission to cancel the results in the districts where fraud is proven,” Fabre wrote in the letter.

Fabre said any further publication of results would be a provocation.

West African and local election observers said on Sunday the election had taken place without major incidents, although turnout appears to have been low at just over 50 percent.

Given Togo’s history of post-election violence — hundreds died in clashes after the 2005 vote — diplomats and observer teams have called on leaders to maintain the peaceful atmosphere.

In a speech to the nation to mark Independence Day on Monday, Gnassingbe called on political leaders to have faith in the institutions organising the election and respect the results.

Security forces stepped up patrols as results were ferried to the seaside capital, Lome, for compilation.

The ballot was delayed by 10 days to allow election experts to clean up voter rolls, which the opposition said contained numerous errors that might favour the incumbent.

Editing by Joe Bavier, Larry King

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