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Long queues form as Togolese register to vote

Long queues form as Togolese register to vote
FILE - Queue at polling station in Lome, February 22, 2020, during presidential elections   -  
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Election registration centres opened on Saturday and within hours long queues had formed with people who want to vote in local and legislative elections that are due to be held sometime this year.

And whilst some have been registered successfully, others have been told that there's no paper left to register them or that the computers aren't working.

"It's a bit difficult, frankly, because things are not improving. They say that the reams of paper are finished, the machines are not working. Nothing but arguments. You see, it's not moving," Sarath Sidibe, who is a chef, said from a centre in the capital Lomé.

On his second attempt Komlan Edoh, a carpenter, was more more successful. "Yesterday, I was there, but as there were many people, and I have other things to worry about, that's why I left. But today I came at six o'clock and it went well. I received my card," he said.

Evariste Toganou, who works in a supermarket, sounded impatient. "I will take my voter's card regardless of the hassles. Because this time, I have to vote."

Like many would-be voters in 2018 Toganou refused to vote after the main opposition parties urged people to boycott the legislative elections. 

But this time, they've been encouraging their supporters to cone out in force.

But whether everyone who wants to vote will be able to register is not certain as election officials admit they are struggling.

"We're really overwhelmed, but okay. We're trying to deal with it, we've got to do everything we can to try and manage everyone who's here," Kokouvi Paul Dobe from the Independent National Electoral Commission said.

In 2018, President Faure Gnassingbé's party got a majority of 59 seats out of the 91 of the National Assembly, whilst the leaders of the main coalition of 14 opposition parties boycotted the election.

They'd grown angry after more than a year of serious political crisis and dozens of protest marches, which were severely repressed, against a reform allowing the president to stand for re-election in 2020 and 2025.

It's clear many of Togo's eight million or so people want change.

Not only does their country remain poor, like much of the Sahel region it's also now suffering from attacks by Islamic extremists.

And the same family has been in power for 56 years.

Gnassingbé has been president since 2005 and before him it was his father Gnassingbé Eyadéma who seized power in 1967.

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