TOGO: Profiles of candidates in Togo's 1 June presidential election:

LOME, 5 May 2003 (IRIN) -
General Etienne Gnassingbe Eyadema

Africa's longest serving head of state, Eyadema came to power in a military coup in 1967. Soon afterwards, Eyadema founded his own political party, the Rally of the Togolese People. This ran Togo as a one-party state until 1993, when the first multi-party elections were held. Following the banning of the main opposition candidate and widespread allegations of fraud in previous elections, Eyadema is the favourite to win this year's poll. Now aged 67, Eyadema began his adult life as a soldier in the French army. He served in Benin (formerly known as Dahomey), Indochina, Algeria and Niger before joining the Togolese army after his country gained independence in 1960. He has always maintained good diplomatic relations with France. Eyadema, who is widely known as "Gnass," hails from the village of Pya in northern Togo. A stickler for discipline, he works long hours and is known for his hot temper. When not attending to affairs of estate, he enjoys hunting game in the bush.

Emmanuel Bob-Akitani

75-year old Akitani is the deputy leader of the Union of Forces for Change (UFC). He is effectively standing as a proxy for UFC leader Gilchrist Olympio, who has been banned from standing in the election. Bob-Akitani, a retired mining engineer, has been campaigning under the slogan "voting for Bob-Akitani is voting for Gilchrist Olympio". On May 26, he received the support of another opposition leader, Leopold Messan Gnininvi, who dropped out of the presidential race in order to unite the opposition against Eyadema. Bob-Akitani spent most of his working life as a senior manager of Togo's phosphate mining company


Yawovi Agboyibo

The 60-year old lawyer's popularity has risen during the run-up to the elections, helped by the fact that he recently spent eight months in jail for defaming a former prime minister. Agboyibo came third in the 1998 presidential election, behind Eyadema and Olympio with 10 percent of the vote. A former president of the National Human Rights Commission, he is standing for the Action Committe for Renewal party, which was created in April 1991.


Edem Kodjo

Kodjo, 64, is a former senior member of Eyadema's RPT who left the party to form the Togolese Union for Democracy in 1991. A respected politician and diplomat, he served as finance minister and foreign minister before becoming Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) from 1978 to 1982. Returning to Lome, Kodjo founded his own political party, but remained on good terms with Eyadema who appointed him prime minister from 1992 to 1996. He is the candidate of the Pan-African Patriotic Convergence, a merger of four opposition parties.


Maurice Dahuku Pere

Pere is a career politician who rose through the ranks of the RPT to become president of the national assembly. However he quit in 2002 following his failure to reform the ruling party from within. At 50, he is one of the youngest candidates in the presidential election. Pere comes from the same district of northern Togo as Eyadema. He speaks perfect English, having studied public administration at universities in Canada. He is standing as the candidate of the Socialist Pact for Renewal.


Nicolas Lawson

A 50-year-old businessman turned politician, Lawson is the only independent candidate in the polls. After studying hotel management in Ireland and economics in France, he worked as an executive for several French companies before setting up his own network of businesses in West Africa. These range from food processing Cote d'Ivoire to pharmaceuticals manufacturing in Ghana and newspaper publishing in Togo. Lawson had to renounce to his French citizenship to compete in this year's presidential election. He has promised to raise the minimum wage, build houses for low and middle income families and provide free education for all.


Theme (s): Human Rights,


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