© Afreepress (Lomé, the 25th April 2015)-Togo remained poised to regain its rightful place in the arena of modern democratic nations as 3.5 million voters turned out massively to cast their votes to freely elect a new Head of State of their choice who will preside over their political destiny for the next five years.
Voting in Lomé and other parts of the country has been peaceful and calm even though there were sign of undercurrents of tension along some of the voters who looked nervous.
Obviously the message of the nightmare of the political violence of the 2005 presidential elections has not been lost on them.
During the 2005 presidential elections, more than 500 Togolese were killed during skirmishes with Togolese security forces according to some investigations.
This time around Special Election Security Force made up of 8000 gendarmes and policemen are monitoring the security aspects of the polls.
In Lome many determined voters got to the polling stations as early as five o’clock in the morning, one hour ahead of the official voting which started at 6, o’clock a.m local time.
At the Immaculée Conception Nyekonakpoe Primary School and CEG Kodjoviakopé polling stations, located in one of the opposition strongholds, the queues which were slim at first began to grow bigger and longer as more voters started milling in their numbers into the polling centres after polling started on schedule.
At the Immaculée conception Primary School in Lome, some voters expressed their aspirations and political expectations in diverse ways when I offered them my microphone.
“I have come to cast my vote. It is my civic duties and I have to perform it”, said Loic Afognon.
Unlike during past elections voting materials arrived this time around on schedule.
Against the background of widespread fears that the polls may be marred by violence, voting has proceeded in an orderly peaceful and calm manner with less aggressive but serious looking potential voters standing in long queues patiently hardly exchanging banter with one another.
President Faure Gnassingbe cast his vote Gnassinggé Eyadema Camp early this morning at 8 o clock while Jean-Pierre Fabreconsidetred like the main challenger to the out-going head of state did so at the Kodjoviakopé Secondary School polling station at 9 o’clock.
Togo’s minister for territorial administration, Mr Gilgert Bawara, expressed hope that the voting will be carried out peacefully in over 8944 polling stations throughout the five regions of Togo.
“Hopefully, everything will go on peacefully and I hope that things will be peaceful until the proclamation of the results regardless of the outcome of the polls”, Mr Bawara said at the press briefing held this afternoon in Lomé.
He expressed the wish that for the first time , Togo’s presidential elections will be democratic , transparent and peaceful with the results acceptable to all candidates.
He also said that “at this stage I cannot have the appropriate figure about the turn out. However, we have all notice that Togolese turned out massively to cast their votes”.
Out of the formidable pack of five presidential candidates, to-day’s elections appear to have become a close contest between President Faure Gnassingbe of the ruling UNIR party and Jean-Pierre Fabre , candidate of opposition coalition known as CAP 2015.
Counting is expected to start immediately but Togo’s Electoral commission says that results will be expected until 72 hours.
More than 500 international observers from the AU, Ecowas Francophonie and WAEMU will monitor the polls together with 30 000 local observers.
Togo closed its land borders with neighbouring Ghana, Burkina Faso and Benin Republic yesterday night at 9 PM as the country holds today its presidential elections leaving many travelers stranded at the entry points.
A communiqué released by Togo’s ministry for territorial administration said the borders will to be re-opened on Sunday after today’s polls at 6 A.M.
Many persons including journalists and traders who were not aware of the decision to close the borders on Friday night have been stranded at the Aflao Border.
Beer bars and restaurants also remained closed until voting officially ends today at 4 P.M.
Blamé Ekoué reporting from Lomé, Togo