Togo: buy me, I'm still the best; Cote d'Ivoire's descent into anarchy has frightened the Togolese into thinking of voting for "the devil they know" Ebow Godwin reports from Lome.

Author:Godwin, Ebow
Position:Around Africa
 
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"I will not remain in power one day more than necessary when my mandate comes to an end in June 2003. And I shall not do anything to touch or amend the Constitution because if I do I will be accused of trying to prolong my tenure like some other African heads of state," President Gnassingbe Eyadema declared to the press on 23 July 1999 during the Inrer-Togolese Dialogue with the opposition groups.

But four years into the bargain, Eyadema has done the proverbial 'Twisting Dance', somersaulting acrobatically to change his mind. On 25 April, over 3,000 delegates attending an Extraordinary Convention of the ruling party in Lome unanimously endorsed Eyadema as the candidate of the party. However, when the nomination was officially declared, Eyadema was conspicuously absent. Only his large portrait loomed above the heads of the executive bureau members of the Convention. The climax, in fact, came on May Day, with barely a few hours to go for the nominations to close. Eyadema finally broke his silence, and officially declared his intention to contest the forthcoming presidential election fixed for 1 June.

Others in the race include Edem Kodjo, the former OAU secretary general, and the exiled opposition leader, Gilchrist Olympio, who stormed Lome on 27 April in a whirlwind fashion from exile in France, to complete his nomination. But when a provisional official list of candidates was released by the Independent Electoral Commission, Olympio's name was not on it, raising fears that he had been disqualified on grounds of...

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