The executive branch was headed by the president and included cabinet ministers and their administrations. The Ivoirian Constitution augments presidential power by combining with it the functions of prime minister while subordinating the role of the National Assembly. Under the Constitution, the president has authority to appoint and dismiss ministers, military officers, and members of the judiciary. The president promulgates laws and ensures their execution, negotiates and ratifies treaties (subject in some cases to the National Assembly's approval), and sets national policy.
As a coinitiator of laws, the president was able to exercise effective control over legislation. Moreover, constitutional mandates coupled with enabling legislation ratified by the National Assembly gave the president what amounted to government by decree. Bills were not always passed unanimously, but that was the practical effect.
The president is elected to a five-year term by universal suffrage and can be reelected indefinitely. To be elected, a candidate must be at least forty years old; other qualifications were fixed by legislation.
The Constitution also provides for the Council of Ministers, whose members are appointed by the president. Although ministers served at the will of the president, he accorded them considerable freedom of action to propose policies and projects within their respective areas of competence. The proposals were then debated by the Council of Ministers.
In the 1980s, HouphouŽt-Boigny selected his ministers from the growing pool of younger, educated technocrats who had replaced the political militants of an earlier generation. Selected at least in part on the basis of merit, the new men came to government without independent constituencies and were therefore indebted to the president, which was consistent with HouphouŽt-Boigny's view that government in immature states should be personal rather than institutional. Government, then, became HouphouŽt-Boigny's administrative agency and not a forum for settling political differences.
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