The constitution of 30 December 1979 provided for a president nominated by the RPT and elected for a seven-year term by universal adult suffrage at age 18. The president nominated and presided over the cabinet and may rule by decree after declaring a state of emergency. Members of the National Assembly were nominated by the RPT and directly elected for five years. The legislature, which may be dissolved by the president, met twice a year.
A new constitution mandating multiparty elections was approved in a referendum on 27 September 1992. Although opposition parties are permitted, they are subjected to intimidation and coercion. Chief of state, President Gen. Gnassingbé Éyadéma, has held power since 14 April 1967, making him sub-Saharan Africa's longest ruling leader. The cabinet is a Council of Ministers appointed by the president and the prime minister. Given the weakness of the legislature, and the RPT's majority, public decision-making authority resides with the executive.
According to the constitution, the president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. In the 21 June 1998 election, Éyadéma officially was reelected president with 52.1% of the vote. The opposition rejected the results as fraudulent. In December 2002, the National Assembly amended the constitution, removing a clause stipulating that the president could be reelected "only once." The next presidential election is scheduled for June 2003. The legislature, the 81-seat National Assembly, is likewise selected in national, multi-party elections.