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Freemasons condemn Togo election

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BBC News

Freemasons condemn Togo election

Freemasons in Benin have said they are unhappy with last month's elections in neighbouring Togo and condemned the world's acceptance of the results.

Tuesday, 17 May, 2005

Marius Adjovi, the master of the Grand Benin lodge, told the BBC that he was shocked at the support given to the regime, which officially won the poll.

He said he was speaking to freemasons in France and West Africa with the aim of encouraging talks in Togo.

Freemasons are very influential in French-speaking African countries.

Last year, Presidents Omar Bongo of Gabon and Denis Sassou-Nguesso of Congo publicly attended a freemasons meeting in Nice.


Faure Gnassingbe, ruling party candidate and son of the long-time president who died in February, won more than 60% of the votes, according to official results.

The opposition, however, allege widespread fraud.

Violent protests at the results left at least 22 people dead.

Most of the 26,000 people who have fled Togo since the elections have sought refuge in Benin.

Mr Adjovi told BBC Afrique that the situation remained "potentially dangerous".

"We express our outrage at the support given by the African Union, Ecowas [West Africa's regional body] and western organisations to the regime in place," he said.

Ecowas has backed the polls. In February, they pressed Mr Gnassingbe into stepping down and holding elections, after the army announced that he had succeeded his father.

Nigeria is hosting a special summit on Togo on Thursday.

Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo has previously urged Mr Gnassingbe and the opposition to set up a government of national unity.

Correspondents say that freemasons are less influential in Togo than in the rest of Francophone Africa.

Mr Adjovi said that there was no sovereign freemasons lodges in Togo but that some Togolese were member of French lodges.

Last week, the European Union parliament rejected the election results.

On Tuesday, Togo's national assembly called this "hostile" and said the EU parliament had not sent observers to the poll.

Further Reading:

Freemasonry in France, Belgium (E.U.), Monaco, Haiti and French Africa