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Greying incumbants take aim at challengers in polls across Africa

8/8/2013, 11:12 a.m.
Ruling parties in Togo, Zimbabwe, Mali and Guinea Bissau are looking to take one more bite of the apple and ...
Faure Gnassingbé, Togolese Politician

Jul. 30 (GIN) – Ruling parties in Togo, Zimbabwe, Mali and Guinea Bissau are looking to take one more bite of the apple and snatch one more electoral victory, deflating hopes by opposition parties to bring new faces and fresh ideas to the top offices.

Early returns in Togo and Mali have some crying foul. "It's a sham amid massive corruption and proven fraud," declared Agbeyome Kodjo, a former prime minister of the West African nation of Togo, whose party Togo Solidarity (OBUTS) joined with Let's Save Togo for the elections.

Early results show Togo’s ruling party of Faure Gnassingbe winning two-thirds of parliamentary seats, allowing the president's family to continue its 46 year-long grip on power.

Faure’s father, Eyadema Gnassingbe, came to power through a coup in 1967 and ruled for 38 years until his death in 2005, when his son was installed by the military.

Gnassingbe’s party will now control 62 of 91 seats, up from 50 of 81 seats. Observers from the African Union and West African bloc ECOWAS have said that the elections were held in acceptable conditions.

Zimbabwe is slated to vote on July 31, Malians voted July 28, while Guinea Bissau is due in November.

Challengers to the firmly entrenched leaders appear to face insurmountable odds. The seemingly unbeatable so-called “Presidents for Life” include Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (25 years), Paul Biya of Cameroon (29 years), Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe (31 years), Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola (32 years) and Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea (nearly 32 years).

Meanwhile, hundreds of comments crowded the website My Continent – Africa on the “Presidents for Life” topic. http://mycontinent.co/Ditactors.php Jackson of Uganda, speaking of the aging leaders, wrote:”Their overstay has affected our development, they are only after empowering their friends and families, the rest is history.” Added Nana Debrah Bekoe Isaac of, Ghana: “How can some people be so power glutton? Staying in power for over two decades is too bad. African leaders should change.” w/pix of F. Gnassingbe