Constitution of Ivory Coast

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Ivory Coast
Recent history

Ivory Coast has had two constitutions in its history. Currently in effect is the constitution of 2000.

1960 Constitution[edit]

On October 31, 1960, the National Assembly of Ivory Coast adopted the Constitution establishing an independent republic. The 1960 Constitution called for a strong, centralized presidential system with an independent judiciary and a national legislature.[1]

As in much of the Ivoirian political system, French influence weighed heavily in the preparation of the Constitution. Félix Houphouët-Boigny and its other authors had received much of their formal political education and experience in France, and Houphouët-Boigny himself had served in successive French governments in the 1950s. Not unexpectedly, the 1960 Constitution was largely taken (often verbatim) from the 1958 constitution of the Fifth Republic of France. Like its French counterpart, the Ivoirian Constitution declares that all power derives from the people and is expressed through universal suffrage. It also mandates the separation of executive and legislative authority with limits on the power of the former.[1]

In its preamble, the Constitution proclaims its dedication to liberal democratic principles and inalienable human rights as expressed in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen and the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Under the rubric "Of the State and Sovereignty," the initial articles of the Constitution describe the symbols of the state—the flag, the motto, and the national anthem—and name French the official language. Articles 3 through 7 delineate the fundamental rights and principles pertaining to Ivoirian citizenship: universal suffrage, popular sovereignty, and equality before the law. Significantly, in light of the government's subsequent coercive support of a single political party, Article 7 of the 1960 Constitution formally allows a multiparty system.[1]

The first chapter of the Constitution directs that the government consist of executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The three subsequent chapters of the Constitution list the powers accruing to each. The Ivoirian Constitution provides for a strong executive, although it couches the language of power in democratic terms. For example, in keeping with the articulated principle of popular sovereignty, the Constitution provides that the National Assembly shall vote laws and consent to taxes but then limits the assembly's power by specifying exactly the matters on which the legislature may act. Matters constitutionally excluded from the legislature's purview automatically fall within that of the executive and are dealt with either by decree or by regulation. The Constitution also stipulates that the executive and the National Assembly share the power to initiate legislation, but the pertinent article appears in the chapter dealing with executive—not legislative—responsibilities. In fact, for most of Ivory Coast's brief history as an independent republic, nearly all legislative programs have originated with the president and have been rubber-stamped by the assembly.[1]

The Constitution also calls for a separate judiciary. As with the legislature, however, the Constitution makes the judiciary subordinate to the individual who guarantees its independence, that is, the president. The Constitution neither establishes nor protects a judiciary independent of or opposed to the government. The Constitution does provide for the Supreme Court and a subordinate court system; nevertheless, it does not stipulate the exact structure of the judiciary, a task that officially was to be done by the National Assembly. In fact, the assembly simply approved the president's plan.[1]

The ninth chapter of the Constitution establishes the Economic and Social Council (Conseil Economique et Social), the purpose of which is to advise the president on matters pertaining to economic development and social change. The final two chapters provide procedures for amending and adopting the Constitution.[1]

2000 Constitution[edit]

Following the bloodless coup of 1999, General Robert Guéï formed a government of national unity and promised open elections. A new constitution was drafted and ratified by the population in the summer of 2000.[2]

Ivory Coast's constitution of the Second Republic (2000) provides for a strong presidency within the framework of a separation of powers. The executive is personified in the president, elected for a 5-year term. The president is the head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces, may negotiate and ratify certain treaties, and may submit a bill to a national referendum or to the National Assembly. According to the constitution, the president of the National Assembly assumes the presidency for 45–90 days in the event of a vacancy and organizes new elections in which the winner completes the remainder of the deceased president's term. The president selects the prime minister, who is the head of government. The cabinet is selected by and is responsible to the prime minister.[2]

The unicameral National Assembly is composed of 225 members elected by direct universal suffrage for a 5-year term concurrently with the president. It passes on legislation typically introduced by the president, although it also can introduce legislation.[2]

The judicial system culminates in the Supreme Court. The High Court of Justice is competent to try government officials for major offenses. There is also an independent Constitutional Council which has seven members appointed by the president that is responsible for, amongst other duties, the determination of candidate eligibility in presidential and legislative elections, the announcement of final election results, the conduct of referendums, and the constitutionality of legislation.[2]

For administrative purposes, Ivory Coast is divided into 19 regions and 90 departments. Each region and department is headed by a prefect appointed by the central government. In 2002, the country held its first departmental elections to select departmental councils to oversee local infrastructure development and maintenance as well as economic and social development plans and projects. There are 196 communes, each headed by an elected mayor, plus the city of Abidjan with 10 mayors.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Robert E. Handloff. "The Constitution". Ivory Coast: A country study (Robert E. Handloff, ed.). Library of Congress Federal Research Division (November 1988).  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ a b c d e Background note: Cote D'Ivoire. U.S. Department of State (May 2009).  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.