Lome - Togo's incumbent President Faure Gnassingbe
appeared set for a third term after a weekend election, with partial results
issued on Monday giving him a strong lead.
A victory in Saturday's vote - described by regional
monitors as "free and transparent" overall - would extend his
family's rule of almost 50 years over the tiny west African nation.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni) said
Gnassingbe had won 62% of the vote, far ahead of his nearest rival Jean-Pierre
Fabre, who took 32% with about 12% of ballots counted.
Up to around 55% of the country's 3.5 million voters
turned out on Saturday, according to the Ceni, which has five days to announce
the final outcome.
Turnout was significantly lower than in 2010, when nearly
two thirds of registered voters took part.
Experts had said the narrow chance of a loss for
Gnassingbe would depend on a massive voter turnout, but civil society groups
said participation rates were "very weak".
The early results came from 934 of a total of 8 994
polling stations in six regions of the country, a long strip of land that lies
between Ghana and Benin, the commission said.
"We wanted to give you a more complete
message," Ceni head Taffa Tabiou told journalists after a night of
"Unfortunately, in the current state of play, we
haven't been able to make much progress."
Gnassingbe has been in power since the death of his
father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, in 2005, winning contested elections that year and
five years later.
His father came to power in 1967, and ruled the country
with an iron fist. When he died in February 2005, the army put his son in
power, causing an outcry. Faure Gnassingbe resigned and then won a hastily
Analysts say divisions within the opposition five-party
coalition Combat for Political Change (CAP 2015) combined with the benefits of
incumbency made Fabre's prospects of victory very dim.
The head of the regional ECOWAS election observation
mission, which sent 100 observers to monitor the polls nationwide, said there
had been no major incident "likely to affect the integrity of the voting
"Overall, the election of April 25 2015 was free,
transparent and organised in an acceptable manner," the west African
economic bloc's Amos Sawyer told reporters.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the smooth vote
and urged "all political leaders and segments of society to continue to
maintain the peaceful atmosphere that has prevailed throughout the electoral
process", his spokesperson said in a statement.
Few of the roughly seven million people in the former
French trust territory, which was inherited from German rule after World War I,
have felt the benefit of recent economic growth.
According to the government, unemployment is rife at 29%.
While Lome is considered an opposition stronghold, many
in the countryside would rather keep Gnassingbe in power than vote for an
opposition they mistrust.
Currently there are no limits to the number of times a
president can stand for re-election. The opposition has called for a two-term