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Article Togo: New Constitution Promulgated

On May 6, 2024, the President of the Togolese Republic, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, promulgated a law revising the Togolese constitution. The constitutional revision law was approved by the National Assembly, which is dominated by one party, the Union for the Republic, which is under Gnassingbé’s control.

The text of the revised constitution has not yet been made public. According to the National Assembly’s website, the new constitution introduces several significant changes, most notably shifting Togo’s governance from a presidential to a parliamentary system of government. The President of the Republic, previously elected by universal suffrage, will now be appointed by the National Assembly and the Senate for a single term of six years, and will be stripped of most powers other than honorary prerogatives. (Although successive constitutions have provided for a senate, it has not yet been put in place in Togo.)

Most decision-making authority will be vested in a new prime minister with the title, President of the Council of Ministers. The President of the Council of Ministers will be appointed by parliament for a term of six years, without a term limit, and will be the leader of the party or coalition of parties that obtained a majority in the legislative elections. Members of the National Assembly and Senate will be elected by direct universal suffrage for a renewable six-year term.

The National Assembly’s website identifies other key provisions of the new constitution, including a declaration of fundamental rights and duties; the formation of a “High Authority for Transparency, the Fight against Corruption and Integrity of Public Life”; the restructuring of the ordinary justice system and autonomous constitutional bodies; and renaming the Supreme Court.

The new constitution has been rejected by the opposition and civil society, including Togo’s Episcopal Conference. The opposition has branded the parliamentary members’ act a “constitutional coup d’état.” The opposition claims that the reforms would allow President Faure Gnassingbé to further extend his family’s 57-year reign. Opponents of the parliamentary constitution argue that the position of President of the Council of Ministers, serving indefinitely renewable terms as the head of the executive branch, is a means to circumvent presidential term limits. The opposition also criticizes the fact that the text of the new constitution has still not been published more than a week after its promulgation.  

Louis Gilbert, Law Library of Congress
May 17, 2024

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Gilbert, Louis. Togo: New Constitution Promulgated. 2024. Web Page.

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