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Legislative Elections - October 2007

The constitution provides citizens the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercised this right in practice through legislative elections declared to be generally free and fair by the international community. However, the National Assembly exercised no real oversight of the executive branch of the government.

The legislative elections held on October 14, 2007, in which all opposition parties participated, were declared free and fair by international and national election observers. The RPT, with 50 seats, won a majority. The UFC took 27 seats, with the CAR receiving the remaining 4. RPT members were elected to all the internal leadership positions within the National Assembly.

The holding of these early parliamentary elections, most likely the first free and fair Togolese elections since decades, were considered internationally as a litmus test of despotic African regimes propensity to change towards democratization and economic prosperity. Western donors took Togo as model to test their approach of political conditionality of aid, which had been emphasised as corner stone of the joint EU-Africa strategy. The opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio contested the credibility of the results, but observers, including the 94 strong EU observation team, pronounced themselves satisfied.

On December 3, 2007, President Faure Gnassingbe appointed as the new Prime Minister Komlan Mally, an RPT member and former Minister of Urban Development. The President named the rest of his cabinet on December 13, 2007 from the RPT and a number of lesser parties. The number of ministries was reduced substantially, from 35 to 22. The other two parties elected to the National Assembly, the UFC and CAR, were not represented in the cabinet.

After the October elections the National Assembly comprised three political parties, although cabinet members were drawn largely from the party of the president. The government remained highly centralized. The national government appoints officials and controls the budgets of government entities at all levels, including prefectures and municipalities, and influences the selection of traditional chiefs. In 2005 Faure Gnassingbe was declared president in an election international observers said was marred by severe irregularities and violence in which an estimated 500 persons died.

On September 5, 2008, Prime Minister Mally submitted his resignation to President Faure Gnassingbe, who named Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, formerly of the United Nations Development Program, to the position 2 days later. The rest of the cabinet was named on September 16, 2008 and was composed of members of the RPT, the CDPA, the CPP, and civil society. The number of ministers rose from 22 to 26, plus two secretaries of state.

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