Togolese have cast their votes following protests in 2017 and 2018 against President Faure Gnassingbe's rule. Last year, Gnassingbe reformed the West African nation's constitution so he could lead until 2030.
Togo began counting votes on Saturday in the country's presidential election following protests against the dynastic rule of one family that has lasted half a century.
Incumbent President Faure Gnassingbe is looking to secure a fourth term in office. He has led the country of eight million since 2005, when his father Gnassingbe Eyadema died after 38 years in the role.
"For 50 years it's been the same family, I want change, stability, end of poverty," 28-year-old voter Octave told DW's Fanny Facsar.
In 2017 and 2018, protests shook the country as people rallied against five decades of rule by one family, while a large proportion of the population continues to live in poverty.
Soldiers close-off opposition candidate
The home of Agbeyome Kodjo, a key opposition candidate, was surrounded by security forces just hours after polls closed, according to French news agency AFP. Kodjo said his house was "surounded by soldiers."
The Togolese government confirmed the presence of troops, saying that the measure was for Kodjo's "own safety" after it was informed the contender might face a risk of an attack, AFP reported.
'I don't feel like a dictator'
Gnassingbe has pushed through constitutional changes to allow him to remain in power for another term, and potentially in office until 2030.
"I don't feel like a dictator," Gnassingbe told the AFP news agency in an interview, faced with accusations of ruling the country with an iron fist. He is widely expected to win the election.
But six challengers in total aimed to persuade the 3.6 million registered voters to remove Gnassingbe and potentially usher in change for millions of Togolese who still live below the poverty line.
mvb,ed/mm (AFP, AP, Reuters)