The West African nation of Togo is one of the smallest countries in Africa. The country came under French colonial rule after World War I. French authorities had control over the country’s foreign relations, defense, and finances during the colonial period. Togo adopted the French system of governance, which has three branches of government. On April 27, 1960, Togo became an independent state. The country retained the French structure of governance and adopted its first constitution in 1961. Since Togo attained independence from France, the country has suffered political instability as well as unreliable elections. Currently, the country has a presidential system of government that is comprised of three independent branches, namely the executive, the legislative, and the judicial.
Executive Branch of Government
Togo’s executive branch of government is composed of the president, prime minister, and Council of Ministers. The president is elected by eligible citizens of Togo every five years. However, the past elections have not been credible, and as a result, the country’s democracy has been compromised. The president is the chief commander of the armed forces in Togo. Additionally, the president has the power to dissolve the country’s parliament. Togo’s president appoints the prime minister, who serves for five years. The prime minister heads the government of Togo. Members of the Council of Ministers are nominated by Togo’s prime minister and appointed into office by the president.
Legislative Branch of Government
The nation of Togo has a unicameral system of parliament, whereby all legislation is done in one legislative chamber, also referred to as the national assembly. The national assembly is comprised of 81 members who are elected as representatives of the 81 constituencies in the country. Members of the national assembly are elected into office every five years. Their primary role is to debate laws, approve the budget and represent their constituencies. Although Togo is a multiparty state, only one party dominates the nation's politics. The opposition parties are suppressed and they lack the freedom of expression.
Judicial Branch of Government
Togo’s judicial system is heavily borrowed from the French, who were their colonial masters. Additionally, the laws are a mix of French laws and Togolese customary laws. The highest courts in Togo are the supreme court and the constitutional court. The supreme court is headed by the court’s president, who is appointed by Togo’s president. The court is divided into the criminal chamber and the administrative chamber. Togo’s constitutional court is comprised of nine judges who are nominated by the National Assembly of Togo. The judges serve for life. Subordinate courts in Togo include the sessions courts, appeal court, court of state security, and the military tribunal.
Administrative Divisions in Togo
Togo has five main administrative divisions: Savanes, Kara, Centrale, Plateaux, and Maritime. The five administrative units are further sub-divided into 30 prefectures. The prefectures are each led by an appointed prefect. The work of the prefect is limited to administrative duties only. The Togolese system of governance is highly centralized. As a result, all the governance and development matters are handled by the central government.