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IFES Election Assistance Project: Togo, Final Activity Report (July 28 - August 23, 1993)


From July 28 to August 20, IFES conducted a technical election assistance project in Togo. One principal goal of the project was to strengthen Togo's capacity to administer well-organized, free and fair elections through the provision of direct advice to the Togolese Electoral Commission, its Ministry of Territorial Administration and Security, and the Secretariat for Electoral Consultations. Secondary goals were to assist the government of Togo and USAID Togo as well as the international community in determining current and future election needs; and to provide assistance to the Election Commission in administering a technically sound, transparent process that would increase public confidence in the Commission and the election as well as encourage the contenders to participate in the process and accept the results.

This project is partly a resumption of IFES activities conducted from September through December 1992, when continued national strikes made further implementation of the project's training component impossible. The project was suspended until further notice by IFES and USAID Togo. The IFES team selected to implement this year's project was requested to review the goals, objectives and activities from last fall, and to continue, revise or implement new activities based on the current election preparations in Togo.

The IFES team worked with the National Election Commission and its local election commissions. They issued procedural advisory memoranda, discussed preparations for the elections and made recommendations regarding areas previously not addressed, such as the mode of transport and reporting of ballots after counting, for which IFES would provide material support. The team trained members of the national and local electoral commissions in their duties over a two-week period. Working with other nongovernmental organizations, they functioned as a point of ongoing information exchange between the Government of Togo and the members of the international community, which became increasingly important as the date of the election approached. The team also designed a system for the tabulation and rapid broadcast of election results as they came in on the evening of August 25.

Given the broad scope of the objectives identified to meet the goal stated above, IFES successfully achieved the majority of them in a timely fashion. The team made a sizeable contribution in the following areas: vote counting and tabulation procedures, training of election personnel, task identification for the CEN, and acquisition of essential equipment for the prompt transmission of election results. The unique central position of the IFES team enabled all players in the election process to exchange information and concerns at every stage. Those objectives not achieved, most notably the setup of the election-night tabulation and broadcast center, were overtaken by events during the weekend prior to the election.

Each phase of the IFES election assistance project in Togo was developed and implemented on the basis of three assumptions: 1) that the Togolese government was interested in conducting a fair election; 2) that the opposition candidates and activists accepted the conditions stated by the provisional electoral code, later by the Ouagadougou Accords; and 3) that both the government and the opposition supported an IFES project in Togo. Near the conclusion of project activities last year and this, IFES noted that at least two of those assumptions were no longer valid. The technical organization of the August election was begun too late to complete the numerous tasks involved by the scheduled election date; the government refused to postpone the election until sufficient preparations had been made. On the political side, of the three major opposition contenders, one was disqualified on questionable grounds, while the other two cited lack of adequate general preparation for their withdrawal from the election. With the previous two factors taken together, the election process appeared to be structurally and politically advantageous to only one candidate. The political implications of the actions taken by the principal actors made IFES' continued support through participation untenable. On Monday, August 23, IFES announced to the National Election Commission its termination of the technical assistance project.

While legislative elections are scheduled (according to the Electoral Code) for November 3, 1993, they were not part of the July 11 accord mandating the August 25 election. IFES is therefore not certain which election schedule will be respected.

Prior to its departure from Togo, the IFES team issued a memorandum to the National Election Commission detailing its concerns with the physical preparations for elections, focusing on the register and the new vote counting procedures. The concerns, contained in this final report, are combined with long-term recommendations for the electoral process in Togo.

The IFES team made several recommendations in the areas of election preparation, vote counting and distribution, ballot design, and registration. Each of the recommendations, if followed, will contribute significantly to the compliance of the Togolese to the Electoral Code or the Ouagadougou Accords as appropriate. Until the cycle of compliance with the letter rather than the spirit of agreements followed by negation of the agreements is broken, the prospects for a successful transition and election process in Togo continue to diminish.

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