(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Opposition leaders released

Togolese security forces clashed on Tuesday morning with demonstrators in the streets of the capital Lome following the arrest of opposition leaders Jean-Pierre Fabre, and Patrick Lawson of Togo's main opposition Union of Forces for Change party.

An Earlier IRIN report indicated that presidential aspirant Nicolas Lawson had been arrested. However sources confirmed to IRIN on Wednesday that the man arrested was Patrick Lawson, a vice-president of the UFC, and along with Fabre the party's spokesman. The presidential candidate Lawson was not arrested, sources said.

The UFC officials were released on Wednesday morning, after being charged in connection with the burning of a petrol station in early May, sources said.

Later the same morning, supporters of incumbent President Gnassingbe Eyadema paraded around the city in a convoy of at least 50 cars and on bikes to celebrate what they said was a victory for their candidate in Sunday's presidential elections.

Sources told IRIN that Lawson and Fabre were arrested for calling "people to revolt". Upon hearing of their arrest, their supporters took to the streets, especially in pro-opposition areas of Lome.

Heavily armed security forces were however quickly deployed. An unconfirmed number of people were beaten while others were arrested, the sources said.

Early results in the elections showed Eyadema, who has ruled Togo since 1967, ahead of five other candidates.

Election observers from the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Entente Council [a loose grouping of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Niger and Togo] told reporters that they did not witness widespread fraud as the opposition had claimed. While there were some irregularities, they said, the voting went on smoothly. The irregularities did not discredit the vote, they said.

On Monday, the opposition parties had said the elections were marred by fraud and vote rigging in favour of Eyadema. The candidates had demanded a rerun of the polls. The government denied the opposition claims.

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