Togo President Gnassingbe to seek fresh term in April election

Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe (C) arrives in Abuja, Nigeria, on December 15, 2014 (AFP Photo/Pius Utomi Ekpei)

Kara (Togo) (AFP) - Togo's ruling party on Wednesday announced that President Faure Gnassingbe will stand for re-election, as widely expected, at the upcoming election in April.

"After a deep analysis of exchanges and debates of today, the national convention has unanimously chosen to pick you, Faure Gnassingbe," said Georges Aidam, first vice president of the Union for the Republic (UNIR) at its national gathering.

Gnassingbe, speaking at the convention which drew some 700 delegates, accepted his party's backing to run for a third term at the country's helm. He has already been in power for 10 years.

"It is out of duty to our country Togo and trust in the ideals that we all share that I have the honour to accept to be invested as the presidential candidate of our UNIR party. I accept this nomination with a deep sense of humility," he said.

Posters put up minutes before the announcement read: "Faure, our choice" and "Faure for modern and prosperous Togo".

Gnassingbe took office in 2005 after the death of his father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled the tiny west African nation with an iron fist for 38 years, but many in the country believe it is time for an end to the family's grip on power.

In recent months, the main opposition parties have tried to introduce a bill in parliament to limit the number of five-year terms that a president can serve to two.

But the reform was blocked, as Gnassingbe's party has a parliamentary majority.

In November and December last year, opposition supporters took to the streets with civil society groups to demand changes.

Opposition leader Jean-Pierre Fabre, who heads the Combat for Political Change 2015 (CAP) grouping of opposition parties, is also running for president.

In all, seven opposition politicians have announced their candidacy.

They also include French-Togolese Kofi Yamgane, a former minister under French president Francois Mitterrand and businessman Alberto Olympio, whose great uncle Sylvanus Olympio was Togo's first president before being assassinated in 1963.

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