Under the constitution of 31 October 1960, as subsequently amended, executive power is exercised by a president, elected for a five-year term by direct universal suffrage (from age 18). The president, who appoints the Council of Ministers (cabinet), may initiate and veto legislation; the veto may be overruled by a twothirds vote of the legislature. A 1980 constitutional amendment created the new post of vice president, to be elected with the president and to become head of state automatically in the case of vacancy by death, resignation, or "absolute hindrance"; the post was left vacant, however, and a 1985 constitutional amendment eliminated it, making the president of the National Assembly the interim successor in the event of a vacancy. A 1990 amendment empowered its speaker to succeed the president. In January 2003, Seydou Diarra was appointed as transitional prime minister by President Gbagbo as part of the French-brokered peace plan to create a national government of reconciliation and unity, after civil war began in September 2002. A 41-member cabinet was agreed upon, which was to include 9 ministers from 3 rebel groups: the MPCI, MPIGO, and MPJ.
The unicameral National Assembly consists of 225 members, elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year term in the same year as the president. The country had a de facto one-party system until May 1990, when opposition parties were allowed. The post of prime minister was created after the November 1990 elections. Controversial electoral reforms were instituted in 1995, just prior to elections.