Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé was unsurprisingly invested on Tuesday to represent the ruling party, the Union for the Republic (UNIR), in the presidential election on February 22, an AFP reporter in Lomé said.
“The bodies of the UNIR party, gathered on this day, reported to His Excellency Faure Gnassingbé (…) the unanimous will of activists to see him defend the colors of the party in the presidential election of February 22”, said said Aklesso Atcholé, executive secretary of UNIR, at a press briefing.
Party officials met behind closed doors all morning, in the presence of President Faure Gnassingbé, after a tour of the various regions of Togo, where they organized consultations with the grassroots.
“This is a party meeting, aimed at informing me of the activists’ wish to see me still wearing our party colors in the presidential election. I thanked them and in all humility, I accepted, ”Faure Gnassingbé told reporters after the meeting.
President Faure Gnassingbé has been in power since 2005, after succeeding his father Gnassingbé Eyadéma, who ruled the country with an iron fist for 38 years. He was re-elected in 2010 and 2015 by disputed ballots.
The country went through a serious political crisis in 2017 and 2018, with gigantic protests heavily repressed, to demand the limitation of presidential terms and the departure of the head of state, who is preparing to run for a fourth term.
But power did not give up and in May 2019, deputies voted for a constitutional revision which allows not only President Gnassingbé to stand for re-election in 2020 and 2025, but also to benefit from lifelong immunity “for the acts committed during presidential terms” .
A dozen opposition leaders, including its historic leader, Jean-Pierre Fabre, and civil society figures, also announced their candidacy for the presidential election.
Candidature files must be submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) by Wednesday at the latest.