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09LOME444 2009-11-20 12:08:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Lome
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L LOME 000444 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/19/2019

Classified By: Ambassador Patricia M. Hawkins for reasons 1.4 (d)
and (b)

SUMMARY: Without warning, and contrary to expectations, the
two major opposition parties suddenly announced a boycott of
the presidential election if the GOT does not accept a change
in the voting procedure to hold two voting rounds. Although
the UFC and the CAR have continued to insist that the voting
procedure must be changed, the issue seemed to have dropped
off the radar screen of late as everyone concentrated on the
goings on in the CENI and the tight timetable for election
preparations. Suddenly, the UFC issued a statement to the
press threatening to boycott the elections, and demanding
another trip to Ouagadougou for a session with the mediator,
Blaise Campaore. The CAR issued its own statement within
days, saying the same thing. Nothing has been heard from the
other, smaller parties. END SUMMARY

1. On Friday, November 12, Gilchrist Olympio, leader of the
major opposition party, the UFC, visited the CMR to reiterate
his concerns that the Government and ruling party (RPT) were
conniving to steal the election from him. He requested
assistance from the USG to provide each of the 6,000 voting
bureaus with computers, so that they could transmit the
voting results more quickly, and avoid the transport of
voting boxes - always an opportunity for ballot box
stuffing. After a brief discussion of the difficulties of
this plan, he abandoned that request and asked for some
computer equipment for the party headquarters, commenting
that all the equipment they had used in the last election had
been destroyed by the military. (Note: He was referring to
the 2003 and 2005 elections, not the 2007 legislatives. End
Note.) I suggested that the UFC investigate using notebook
computers that could be easily concealed and that were
relatively inexpensive. Then, after asking me to intercede
in the visa case of a nephew, Olympio casually dropped the
news that he still expected the government to go back to
Ouagadougou and negotiate the question of two voting rounds.
He waved away any discussion of the constitution and the
impossibility of changing it this close to the election,
dismissed the idea that the RPT would never accept this
change, and assured the me that he would prevail with the
help of President Campaore. Throughout the conversation
Olympio seemed tired and distracted, and was not really
focused in his conversation. He repeatedly addressed me as
Madame Rawlings. I presumed that the real object of the visit
was the visa case, since he did not dwell on any of the
requests or political issues at any length or with any

2. That afternoon, without any warning, the UFC issued a
statement calling on the government to change the voting
procedure to two rounds and threatening to boycott the
election if it did not. The statement went into detail about
the history of one vs. two rounds, referring to the
Constitution of 1992, and the unilateral changes made in 2003
and called on the population, including political parties,
civil society, labor unions, the media, religious groups,
students, all the "living forces" of the nation to mobilize
and organize to obtain "by whatever means" the
re-establishment of two rounds of voting.

3. Three days later, the CAR, using much the same language,
issued its own statement, calling on the facilitator to open
new talks with all the Togolese political actors to settle
this question. The CAR also announced that it would not
participate in an election if there were not two rounds.

4. Reaction was been muted, and there has been little in the
press since Tuesday. At least one opposition paper published
an article mildly critical of the UFC, asking about the
timing, since this subject had not figured largely in
previous talks, and commenting that Olympio had been more
concerned with assuring his ability to run, rather than
changing the voting procedure.

5. Minister of the Interior, Pascal Bodjona, the GOT's
representative to the CENI and person in charge of the
election, told a meeting of the election steering committee
(committee de pilotage) that this was a diversionary act on
the part of the opposition, which was not ready to contest
the election. A prominent member of the UFC and an advisor
to Olympio told me that he could not understand why Olympio
had signed such a statement, and speculated that it was urged
on him by Jean-Pierre Fabre, the most radical of the UFC
steering committee. There has been speculation that Fabre
and Habia, a member of the UFC youth group, are struggling
for control of the party after Olympio exits, but we have no
hard evidence of this.

6. COMMENT: There is no possible reason for the GOT and the
RPT to even consider changing the voting procedure. While
certainly disturbing in the short term, this move on the part
of the UFC does seem to be an empty threat. This is
Gilchrist Olympio's last chance to run in a presidential
election and he has expended too much time, effort and
credibility in assuring that his candidacy would be approved
to pull out now. Such a move would hand the RPT the election
on a silver platter, and utterly destroy the UFC's standing.
The CAR probably followed the UFC lead, fearing to be
marginalized as an opposition party if it did not toe the
line. Despite this distraction, post is convinced that the
GOT will hold the election as planned on February 28, 2010,
whether there is an opposition party running or not. END