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Togo Adopts New Constitution, Shifts Power to Parliament

Togolese lawmakers approved a new constitution on Monday, shifting the country’s political system from presidential to parliamentary and granting parliament the authority to elect the president.

Under the new rules, the president will be selected “without debate” by lawmakers for a single six-year term, rather than through public elections. This change, supported by 89 votes in favor, one against, and one abstention, remains pending implementation, with no specific date set.

Previously, presidents could serve up to two five-year terms. The constitutional amendment, proposed by lawmakers primarily from the ruling Union for the Republic party, received almost unanimous support.

The opposition, largely absent from the national assembly due to the 2018 legislative election boycott and allegations of electoral irregularities, has limited influence.

The updated constitution also introduces the role of “president of the council of ministers,” responsible for managing government affairs and being accountable. This position, held for a six-year term, is granted to the leader of the majority party or coalition following legislative elections.

Tchitchao Tchalim, chair of the national assembly’s committee on constitutional laws, legislation, and general administration, explained that the president of the council of ministers assumes significant executive powers, representing Togo abroad and overseeing day-to-day governance.

This constitutional revision marks Togo’s transition to its fifth republic, following significant changes in 1992. It precedes upcoming legislative and regional elections scheduled for April 20, in which the opposition plans to participate.

In 2019, lawmakers amended the constitution to limit presidential terms to two, though this did not apply retroactively. President Faure Gnassingbe, in office since 2005, succeeded his father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled for over 50 years after seizing power in a coup.

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