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Greying Incumbants Take Aim At Challengers In Polls Across Africa

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network

Ruling parties in Togo, Zimbabwe, Mali and Guinea Bissau are looking to take one more bite out 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 Agbéyomé 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 Gnassingbé winning two-thirds of parliamentary seats, allowing the president’s family to continue its 46-year grip on power.

Gnassingbé’s father, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, 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.

Gnassingbé’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 voted on July 31, Malians voted July 28, and 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), José Eduardo dos Santos of Angola (32 years) and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea (nearly 32 years).

Meanwhile, hundreds of comments crowded the website MyContinent.co on the “Presidents for Life” topic. 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.”


Nana Debrah Bekoe Isaac of Ghana said, “How can some people be [such gluttons for power]? Staying in power for over two decades is too bad. African leaders should change.”

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