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Togo - Government

The Togolese government is headed by the president and consists of numerous ministries and an elected legislative body. The country is divided into five regions, and each region is divided into prefectures, the loose equivalent of counties. All political officials are appointed by the government.

The Togolese electoral system changed from an absolute majority (either in a first round or a second round) system to a simple majority system (first past the post) following the 20002/2003 revision to the Code Electoral. This revision applied to both the presidential and National Assembly elections. Both the President and representatives in the National Assembly are elected for five year terms at different intervals. Representatives are elected from single member constituencies.

Prefecture and Municipal Councils Councils are elected for five year terms under a closed-list proportional system, whereby party lists cannot be altered and seats are allocated following the order on the list. Seats are allocated using the prefecture’s quota system and the highest remainder formula.

Revisions to the Code Electoral in 2002, 2003, and 2005 created an election management structure consisting of two separate bodies: Articles 6, 11, 12, 13 of the Code Electoral provide for the creation of a permanent independent administrative body known as the Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante (CENI) to ensure that elections and referenda are conducted in accordance with the law; and The Election Administration (EA) situated in the Ministry of the Interior is responsible for organizing elections.

The CENI and its subordinate organs, the Local Independent Electoral Commissions (CELIs), were established and mandated to ensure that elections are conducted in accordance with the Code Electoral (Article 4). It is particularly responsible for supervision and regulation of the electoral process to ensure transparency in coordination with the Ministry of the Interior and other state agencies. It must also guarantee freedom of expression for voters and candidates.

In analyzing the CENI structure, it is obvious that the Ministry of Interior is in full control of organizing and managing elections. The CENI is not empowered to appoint its own Permanent Administrative Secretary. He/she is instead appointed by the Council of Ministers, and the CENI deputy secretary is appointed by the Ministry of Interior. The only staff that the CENI is empowered to appoint are the CELI delegates at polling stations. All other administrative and polling staff are appointed by the EA, which is effectively an extension of the Ministry of the Interior.

Prior to the revision of the Code Electoral, the Constitution was amended to include the twelve- month residency requirement for the presidency (six months for the National Assembly). Proof of residency is verified by a certificate delivered to the CENI by the relevant authority. If a citizen has acquired other citizenship, the Code Electoral states that the person in question must provide evidence of renunciation of foreign citizenship(s). Residency requirements, in particular, are sometimes utilized as a tool to disqualify exiled leaders, but are not necessarily contrary to international standards.

Candidates for president are also required to submit a deposit with their declarations. The deposit is determined by a decree from the Cabinet on recommendation of the CENI and the Electoral Administration, and has historically been set at 20 million FCFA ($43,500) for the presidential election. For a poor country such as Togo, this amount is high and can exclude potential candidates from small parties unable to raise this amount of money. For the April 24 Elections, the government has accepted the proposal from opposition parties and ECOWAS to reduce this amount to 10,000,000 FCA ($20,750), and has issued a decree to this effect. The deposit is refunded if the candidate succeeds in gathering at least 5% of the votes cast.

.The Parliament comprises the National Assembly and the Senate (art. 51 of the Constitution). The National Assembly is made up of 91 members elected by direct universal suffrage for a term of five years. As of 2015 it included representatives of six political parties: Union pour la République, Alliance Nationale pour le Changement, Union des Forces du Changement, Comité d’Action pour le renouveau, Alliance pour la Démocratie et le Développement Intégral, Sursaut Togo, and independents. The National Assembly adopts the laws and monitors the work of the Government. When the Senate is suspended, its powers are temporarily exercised by the National Assembly.

The Togolese judiciary is modeled on the French system. The rule of law is enshrined in article 1 of the Constitution. Justice is delivered in the name of the Togolese people by the courts and tribunals. Provision is also made for the principle of a fair trial, including public hearings, the right to a defence and the obligation to justify decisions. To meet the need for speedy justice, Togo has been modernizing its justice system and has recruited at least 20 judges and as many court registrars every year since 2005. To this end, a justice training centre was established in 2010 to provide both initial and in-service training to professionals of the courts system.

The independence of the judiciary is guaranteed by the Constitution (art. 113) and enshrined in law by Organization Act No. 96-11 of 21 August 1996 on the special status of judges, amended by Act No. 2013-007 of 25 February 2013. This law enshrines the principle of the irremovability of judges and makes the Supreme Council of Justice, which is mainly made up of judges, responsible for managing judges’ careers.

The Constitutional Court, which “rules on the constitutionality of laws and guarantees fundamental individual rights and civil liberties, regulates the activities of public institutions and the work of the public authorities”. It is the highest judicial authority in the State in constitutional affairs (art. 99 of the Constitution). The Court announces the results of presidential and parliamentary elections and referendums, settling any disputes which may have arisen, and has very wide-ranging powers of ex ante and ex post control. Its organization and operation are governed by Organization Act No. 2004-004 of 1 March 2004.

The constitution provides for the right to a fair public trial, but executive influence on the judiciary limited this right. The judicial system employs both traditional law and the Napoleonic Code in trying criminal and civil cases. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges against them, with free interpretation as necessary from the moment charged through all appeals. They have a right to a fair public trial without undue delay, to communicate with an attorney of their choice, and to adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense.

Trials were open to the public and juries were used. Defendants have the right to be present at their trials, confront witnesses, and present witnesses and evidence on their own behalf. Defendants have the right to access government-held evidence relevant to their cases, but this right was not respected. Defendants have the right not to testify or confess guilt. Those convicted have the right to appeal. Authorities generally respected most of these rights, which are extended to all defendants including women, members of indigenous groups, older persons, and persons with disabilities.

For administrative purposes, Togo is divided into 30 prefectures, each having an appointed prefect.

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