Togo follows 'Nigeria template' and postpones election - but Guinea wants early polls

It is voting season in West Africa, and voting dates remain a potent weapon.

TOGO’s presidential election has been postponed by 10 days to April 25, the communications minister announced, after calls for a delay over claims the voter register was flawed.

“The presidential election will be held on April 25, 2015 and not April 15, the initial date,” said a presidential decree read on state television in the small West African country by Communications Minister Germaine Koumealo Anate.

The chairman of regional bloc ECOWAS, Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama, had suggested the postponement during a visit to Togo Tuesday, citing the need to update the electoral roll.

“As a result, ECOWAS proposes that the election is delayed by 10 days to allow the election list to be revised so everyone is satisfied,” Mahama told reporters.

The opposition claims the electoral roll is plagued by “serious anomalies” and says it must be checked before a transparent vote can be held.

President Faure Gnassingbe is running for a third five-year term in office.

He came to power in 2005 after the death of his father Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled Togo with an iron fist for 38 years and abolished a limit on the number of mandates.

Attempts to introduce term limits have been blocked in parliament, where Gnassingbe’s party has a majority.

Late last year, opposition supporters took to the streets with civil society groups to demand reforms.

Ebola ‘excuse’
In Guinea, another West African country, the opposition is pushing for early local elections, which are due in March next year.

The opposition boycotted parliament earlier this month in protest over the timetable for presidential elections, accusing Conde of using the Ebola epidemic as an excuse to postpone voting and refusing to enter into a dialogue over the timetable.

The government in response this week urged a dialogue after the three main opposition leaders called for renewed protests against President Alpha Conde over elections.

Former prime ministers Cellou Dalein Diallo, Sidya Toure and Lansana Kouyate in a joint statement signed Tuesday in Paris had accused Conde of repeated rights violations and said he had “lost all legitimacy”.

The former premiers have called on demonstrators to support their demands.

The last election in Guinea—September 2013’s parliamentary vote—was delayed by almost three years, stoking deadly ethnic tensions that have dogged the country’s politics since independence.

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