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Learning English - Words in the News
04 May, 2005 - Published 12:45 GMT
Togo's new president
Faure Gnassingbe in February 2005

In Togo Faure Gnassingbe is due to be sworn in shortly to succeed his father as president. He faces a difficult job, particularly because of evidence of irregularities in the electoral system. This report from Elizabeth Blunt:

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His face smiles down amiably from a thousand posters -- Faure Gnassingbe in a lounge suit, in national dress, in his favourite pale blue polo shirt.

Mr Gnassingbe has had the image consultants in, and they have promoted him shrewdly as the candidate of national unity (father from the north; mother from the south), and, despite his family connections, as the candidate of change -- a leader from a new generation who will take Togo smiling into the future.

Meanwhile in the flesh the winning candidate seems mildly, if pleasantly surprised to be the centre of so much attention. He has the square build, the broad shoulders of his father, but soft where his father was hardened and tough.

When on election day I asked him if he'd always wanted to be president, he replied disarmingly that he hadn't really wanted to be president at all, it was just how events had turned out, and that he wasn't even sure how much he would enjoy it.

He is going to need all his charm if he is going to knit Togo back together after an acrimonious campaign and what the opposition believe was a stolen election. And he also has to woo international donors, especially the European Union which cut off all development aid twelve years ago because of his father's excesses.

The manner of his election will have failed to impress, with a hugely inflated voters roll, the theft of ballot boxes by the army, and claims by the opposition that some results were simply faked making it hard to say who really won the presidential election.

Elizabeth Blunt, BBC

Listen to the words

has had the image consultants in
has used the services of people who give advice on how to dress and speak in public

promoted him shrewdly
advertised him in a clever way

despite his family connections
even though he is the old president's son

to be the centre of so much attention
to have many people interested in you as the most important person

the square build
the strong body shape

to knit Togo back together
to unite and join Togo together again, to heal the problems of the past

an acrimonious campaign
a negative and hostile election process

to woo international donors
to encourage investment from other countries

a hugely inflated voters roll
many more names registered to vote than there should be

ballot boxes
containers where people put the pieces of paper after they have marked their choices in an election

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