May 3, 2010 / 3:12 PM / 10 years ago

Togo's Gnassingbe sworn in despite protests

Togo's President Faure Gnassingbe speaks during a news conference after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Chancellery in Berlin, June 16, 2009. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

LOME (Reuters) - Faure Gnassingbe was sworn in for a second five-year term as Togo’s president on Monday, despite persistent low-level opposition protests against his victory in the March 6 election.

With one hand on the bible, Gnassingbe was sworn in as the leaders of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Benin looked on.

Gnassingbe’s poll win, with just over 60 percent of the vote, sparked a series of protests by the opposition in the tiny West African country, the world’s No. 4 supplier of phosphate.

The protests have been less violent than in 2005, when hundreds died challenging Gnassingbe’s victory in an election held to find a successor to his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who died after running Togo with an iron fist for 38 years.

A spokesman for the UFC, the leading opposition party, said it would continue to challenge Gnassingbe’s win but gave no details. The latest protest against the election result drew 2,000 to 3,000 people but remained peaceful.

Businesses in the capital, Lome, were open as usual on Monday.

The election was seen partly as a test for democracy in West Africa, a resource-rich region hit by a series of coups and flawed elections over the last few years.

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