| Democratic Process
This section has been updated
by Mr Boubacar Issa Abdourhamane,
a doctorate student at the CEAN, IEP Montesquieu University of Bordeaux
It was at the beginning of
October 1990 that the first major protests appeared against the regime of General
Gnassingbé Eyadéma, who had been in power since 1967. Internal pressure in favour of
democracy emerged in the form of demonstrations organised on the occasion of trails of
several young people accused of having written and distributed leaflets that were hostile
to the regime in power. The ensuing clashes with the army left five dead. This pressure
led to the authorities setting up a Constitutional Commission on 27 October. General
Eyadéma asked this body to prepare for a multiparty system.
Tension continued however, with strikes and demonstrations that were quashed in the early months of 1991. The opposition created the Front of Associations for Renewal, under the leadership of Yaovi Agboyibor. On 18 March, in the wake of the negotiations, General Eyadéma finally accepted the principle of a general amnesty, the creation of political parties and the holding of a National Conference. The political parties were founded and joined together to create the Democratic Opposition Front (Front de lopposition démocratique FOD), which was then renamed the Collective Democratic opposition (Collectif opposition démocratique COD), and demanded the resignation of general Eyadéma and the holding of a National Conference, backing up its demands by an unlimited general strike. The principle of the organisation of the National Conference was accepted in the agreements of 12 June 19891 between the authorities and the COD.
This National Conference was held from 1 July to 28 August 1991 under the chairmanship of Monsignor Kpodzro, in a climate of tension and intimidation orchestrated in particular by the military, which was seen by the opposition as being the hand of the authorities. Despite this, the conference declared itself sovereign and withdrew power from the hands of President Eyadéma. It elected a High Council of the Republic, an interim authority under the presidency of Mgr Kpodzro and the interim Prime Minister Joseph Kokou Koffigoh. The latter formed a government in September of the same year.
The interim period was supposed to last one year, but was extended until the general elections of August 1993. Pressure from the army and uncontrollable military elements was such that, little by little, general Eyadéma regained the initiative. In October and November 1991, the military made a series of demonstrations of power. In the wake of the dissolution of the RPT of President Eyadéma by the HCR, things came to a head with the arrest of the interim Prime Minister and the flight of the President of the HCR. The Prime Minister was taken to the residence of President Eyadéma. One week later, a new government was formed, but the army and the ex-single party, faithful to the President, came out of the struggle victoriously.
During 1992 there were many terrorist attacks, some of them fatal, targeting opposition leaders, as well as strikes. But the agreements of the joint commission of August 1992 enabled President Eyadéma to retrieve the essential part of his powers. The third interim government formed in September was thus dominated by the RPT. On 14 October, the new Constitution was finally promulgated further to the referendum of 27 September.
Faced with what was perceived as being an attempt by the authorities to regain control, with General Eyadéma reinstating ministers who had been dismissed by the head of the government, the unions launched an unlimited strike in November 1992 and the opposition organised demonstrations that were crushed in January 1993 with great bloodshed. The Ouagadougou agreements in July between the authorities and COD2 set the date of the presidential election for 25 August 1993. The election, however, was boycotted by the main opposition leaders. General Eyadéma was declared the winner in the first round with 96.49% of the votes. General elections were held in February and March 1994. The opposition won an absolute majority but the Supreme Court (sitting pending the establishment of the Constitutional Court) cancelled the election of three of its members. Besides this, the opposition was divided by the authorities, with the President appointing Edem Kodjo (6 seats) as Prime Minister so as to avoid having to work with Yaovi Agboyibor (36 seats). The government was thus dominated by the RPT (35 seats).
With by-elections giving the RPT an absolute majority in August 1996, Prime Minister Edem Kodjo was replaced by a loyal supporter of President Eyadéma, Kuassi Klutsé. The government was now entirely composed of supporters of the Head of State. In September 1997, parliament passed a law creating an Independent National Electoral Commission in preparation for the 1998 and 1999 elections.
The second presidential election was held on 21 June 1998 with the opposition taking part this time. During the vote-counting stage, however, the national electoral commission resigned under pressure from those in power. The Minister of the Interior took over operations and declared President Eyadéma the winner in the first round with 51.13% of the votes. The opposition denounced large-scale fraud, and organised demonstrations. Gilchrist Olympio, in particular, claimed victory and refused to recognise the legitimacy of the authorities. In the absence of any form of guarantee, the opposition boycotted the general elections of 21 March 1999. The RPT won 79 seats out of 81, with the two remaining seats going to independent candidates. The battle between the authorities and the opposition continued. To defuse the crisis, President Eyadéma announced in July 1999 that he would not stand for the presidential elections scheduled in 2003. At the same time, the government and opposition signed an agreement to schedule early general elections that had initially been planned for March 2000 but then postponed for reasons of organisation. The Independent electoral Commission has been set up and must now propose a new calendar to the government. As far as the government is concerned, it should be noted that a motion of no confidence was passed for the first time in Togo. On 24 August 2000, the National assembly refused to give its confidence to Prime Minister Eugène Koffi Adoboli by 57 votes out of 81, despite the fact that the Prime Minister was a member of the majority. He was replaced by Kodjo Agbéyomè, formerly President of the National assembly. The date of the next general elections is yet to be set.
The Constitution of the 4th
Republic of Togo promulgated on 14 October 1992 instituted a semi-presidential regime with
a two-headed executive. The President of the Republic is elected in a two-round, first
past the post system for a term of five years that may be renewed just once. He may
dissolve the National assembly after consultation with the Prime Minister and the
President of the National Assembly (Art. 68). The Prime Minister is the chief of
government. He is appointed by the President of the Republic from the parliamentary
majority (Art. 66 of the Constitution). He is answerable to the National Assembly,
which can overturn him by a vote of no confidence when he has engaged the responsibility
of the government. The Prime Minister has real powers that can lead to conflicts as to who
is competent in certain matters in periods of cohabitation.
The Parliament has a single chamber and, along with government, has the initiative to propose laws. The members of the National Assembly, of whom there are 81, are elected by secret, direct universal suffrage for a term of office of five years in a first past the post system. They may be re-elected. The National Assembly may pass a no confidence vote against the government, which is then required to resign. In order to be valid for debate, this motion must be signed by at least one third of the members of the Assembly and must contain the name of a proposed successor for the Prime Minister. It must be approved by at least two thirds of the members. The National assembly has been led since September 2000 by Fambare Natchaba Ouattara of the RPT.
The Constitutional Court, set up on 22 February 1997, is composed of seven members appointed for a single term of seven years. We should note that two of them are appointed by the two heads of the executive branch, two by parliament, one by law teachers, one by magistrates and one by the lawyers. The courts judges the Constitutional validity of laws, guarantees the basic freedoms and regulates the workings of the institutions. Its decisions are not subject to appeal. The authority and independence of the court are a subject of doubt among the opposition since it validated the results of the contested presidential election.
The Constitution also provides for other institutions such as the Court of Auditors, whose members may not be removed from office and which is somewhat particular in that it is independent of the Supreme Court. There is also a Social and Economic Council that gives opinions, as well as a High Court of Justice that is competent in case of crimes or offences committed by the President of the Republic or members of the government.
According to the terms of the Constitution of 14 October 1992, the Supreme Court is the highest judicial and administrative authority in the country. It is composed of just one judicial chamber and one administrative chamber which have authority, among other things, to judge appeals against decisions rendered in the lower jurisdictions, in accordance with the principles of jurisdictional unity and separation of disputes stipulated in the Constitution. The Constitution expressly prohibits exceptional tribunals. The President of the Supreme Court, appointed by the President of the Republic, also presides over the Higher Magistrates Council which judges in is the disciplinary body for magistrates. Judges cannot be removed from office.
Decentralisation and Devolution
The Constitution stipulates that the Republic of Togo is composed of local authorities, communes, prefectures and regions, on the basis of the principle of decentralisation and the freedom of elected councils to administer their affairs. There are six regions (Maritime, Plateaux, Centrale, Kara, Savanes and the Commune of Lomé) composed of 30 prefectures in the wake of the redefinition of boundaries carried out prior to the elections (Avé, Golfe, Lacs, Vo, Yoto, Zio, Agou, Amou, Danyi, Est-Mono, Haho, Kloto, Moyon-Mono, Ogou, Wawa, Blitta, Sotouba, Tchamba, Tchaoudjo, Assoli, Binah, Bassar, Dankpen, Doufelgou, Kozah, Keran, Oti, Tône, Kpendjal, Tandjouaré). In fact, nothing has been done for decentralisation since the adoption of the Constitution. There have been no local elections and the current municipal councils were set up before the interim period. We are therefore dealing here more with areas managed by State civil servants.
Political parties were authorised in Togo by the law of 12 April 1991. There are currently about seventy parties registered with the Interior Ministry, but many of them exist only in name and few are truly operational. 22 took part in the 1994 general elections in which 81 seats were to be filled, but only 5 won seats: General Eyadémas Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais, the former single party (35 seats), the Comité dAction pour le Renouveau of Yaovi Agboyibor (34 seats), the Union togolais pour la Démocratie of Edem Kodjo (6 seats), the UJD, a satellite party of the RPT (2 seats) and the Confédération des forces nouvelles of Joseph Kokou Koffigoh (former interim Prime Minister, today Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Minister) with just one seat. Among the other important political parties, we could mention Antoine Follys Union pour la démocratie et la solidarité, Zarifou Ayevas Parti démocratique et républicain, Léopold Gnininvis Convention démocratique des peuples africains and Gilchrist Olympios Union des forces pour le changement. The latter was credited with 34.1% of the votes in the contested presidential elections. Today, his party represents one of the major political formations in the country.
Since the transition to
democracy, many unions have been created in the wake of the end of the monopoly of the
former single union, the Convention nationale des travailleurs togolais. They are
grouped together in different confederations such as the Collectif des syndicats
independants, the Union générale des syndicates libres and the Confédération
des syndicats des travailleurs togolais. These unions played a major role in the
national strike of 1992-1993 and in the mobilisation in favour of opening up the regime as
The principle of the respect and defence of human rights is stated in the preamble to the Constitution referring to the United Nations Charter of 1945, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the international pacts of 1966 and the OAUs African Charter of Human Rights and the Rights of Peoples of 1981. The Constitution established a National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) which is supposed to be independent and is subject only to the provisions of the Constitution and the laws. In fact, the CNDH was created in 1987 by the Togolese government. Since 1990, there has been another human rights organisation the Togolese Human Rights League (LTDH). The government includes a Minister for the Promotion of Democracy and the Rule of Law and progress has been noted in the domain of public freedoms in comparison with the arbitrary approach of the 1980s and the political violence of 1990-1994. However, Amnesty International regularly targets Togo for violence, torture or extra-judiciary executions carried out by the forces of order against the opposition at home and abroad. A report published in May 1999 mentioned in particular the execution of many people since the 1998 presidential election. An international UN and OAU commission of enquiry entrusted with the task of checking the contents of this report started its work in Lomé in November 2000.
The opening up of the
political system and law n° 90-025 of 30 November 1990 on the press led to the appearance
of an independent press. Many publications turned out to be ephemeral, however, and among
the hundred or so that have appeared to date, about fifteen are now issued regularly.
During the interim period, journalists, papers and presses were the target of many acts of
violence. By the terms of the Constitution, it is the High Authority of the Audiovisual
Sector and Communication that must guarantee and ensure the freedom and protection
of the press. There are also five weekly papers that are issued regularly in Togo
and about forty publications are registered with the High Authority and appear
The government daily is Togo Presse. La Tribune des Démocrates, the opposition paper, is published twice weekly. Most of the other titles are weeklies or appear once or twice a month. We will mention Crocodile, Forum Hebdo, Carrefour, LEveil du Peuple, Kpakpa Désenchanté (satirical), all of which are close to the opposition, while Le Patriote, Le Démocrate and Le Dérangeur are close to the President. The first independent private daily paper in Togo, Les Echos du Matin, started its publication in January 2000.
The radio-waves have opened up to many private radio stations: Radio Nostalgie FM, Radio Tropic FM, Radio Evangile. The situation is less open in the field of television. The State station TVT broadcasts to the whole of the country. Since 1995, Media Plus, a pay-per-view package created by Richard Aquereburu, broadcasts the programmes of several foreign TV stations in Lomé.