Parliamentary elections in Togo: strengthening democracy and the rule of law

25 Jul 2013

image This year saw an increase in the proportion of women candidates, with 13 percent, running for office. Photo: Emile Kenkou / UNDP in Togo

Lome - More than three million Togolese headed to the polls peacefully today to elect a new Parliament.

The ballot had been postponed several times over disagreements regarding the country’s electoral reform agenda. The election will represent an important milestone in the consolidation of Togo’s efforts to consolidate democracy and strengthen its national institutions.

Since the parliamentary elections of 2007 and 2010 presidential elections, both of which took place peacefully, the country has been working hard to promote inclusive participation and consensual politics.

The European Union, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations and the Embassies of France, Germany and the United States have played an important mediating role between the different parties.

To encourage the process, the Presidents of Côte d'Ivoire and Nigeria visited the country as part of an observation mission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa, Said Djinnit, also paid a visit to the country on the eve of the election.

This year saw an increase in the proportion of women candidates, with 159 women, or 13 percent of the 1,174 candidates, running for office. This represents a three percent increase as compared with more than 3 October 2007.

There are currently less than a quarter of women in government in Togo, and only 8 out of a total of 81 parliamentarians are female, the equivalent of 9 percent.

Maintaining peace has been a major challenge for the country and its partners. To fulfill that objective, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United States Embassy in Togo provided U.S. $ 450,000 toward the organization of a series of training sessions for the institutions involved in the elections, such as the security forces, media, and civil society organizations.

Thanks to this support, partners also raised awareness and conducted civic education activities among the wider public, particularly young people and women, and advocated for peaceful elections with community leaders.

An estimated 500,000 people benefitted from these activities, in addition to those reached by the public service announcements produced in this campaign, which called for a peaceful election.

A total of 91 seats are to be filled in 30 constituencies.