The president of the republic is elected to a 5-year term by direct universal suffrage and a secret ballot, and may hold up to two consecutive terms. Candidates are chosen at their party's national conference (or individuals may run independently). A presidential candidate must obtain an outright majority of the popular vote in either a first or second tour of voting in order to be elected president. The prime minister is named by the president but must be ratified by the majority party and thus normally comes from a list of its choosing. The prime minister, in turn, names the 14 members of the cabinet. The National Assembly is made up of 55 members, all of whom must stand for reelection every 5 years.
Justice is administered at the highest level by the Supreme Court. Formerly responsible to the National Assembly, the judiciary is now independent under the new constitution.
Administratively, the country is divided into seven municipal districts, six on São Tomé and one comprising Príncipe. Governing councils in each district maintain a limited number of autonomous decision-making powers, and are reelected every 5 years.
Since the constitutional reforms of 1990 and the elections of 1991, São Tomé and Príncipe has made great strides toward developing its democratic institutions and further guaranteeing the civil and human rights of its citizens. São Toméans have freely changed their government through peaceful and transparent elections, and while there have been disagreements and political conflicts within the branches of government and the National Assembly, the debates have been carried out and resolved in open, democratic, and legal fora, in accordance with the provisions of São Toméan law. A number of political parties actively participate in government and openly express their views. Freedom of the press is respected, and there are several independent newspapers in addition to the government bulletin. The government's respect for human rights is exemplary; the government does not engage in repressive measures against its citizens, and respect for individuals' rights to due process and protection from government abuses is widely honored. Freedom of expression is accepted, and the government has taken no repressive measures to silence critics.
conventional long form: Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe
conventional short form: São Tomé and Príncipe
local long form: República Democrática de São Tomé e Príncipe
local short form: São Tomé e Príncipe
Data code: TP
Government type: republic
Capital: São Tomé
National holiday: Independence Day, 12 July (1975)
Legal system: based on Portuguese legal system and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
chief of state: President Fradique DE MENEZES (since September 3, 2001) election results: Fradique DE MENEZES elected president in São Tomé e Príncipe's third multiparty presidential election; 56.31% of votes elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 29 July 2001 (next to be held July 2006); prime minister chosen by the National Assembly and approved by the president head of government: Prime Minister Maria DAS NEVES (unseated by the 2003 coup d'état) cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the proposal of the prime minister former president: Miguel TROVOADA (from April 4, 1991 to September 3, 2001)
unicameral National Assembly or Assembleia Nacional (55 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 8 November 1998 (next to be held NA November 2003)
election results: percent of vote by party - MLSTP-PSD 56%, PCD 14.5%, ADI 29%; seats by party - MLSTP-PSD 31, ADI 16, PCD 8
Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges are appointed by the National Assembly
Political parties and leaders: Christian Democratic Front or FDC [Alphonse Dos SANTOS]; Democratic Opposition Coalition or CODO [leader NA]; Independent Democratic Action or ADI [Carlos NEVES]; Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome and Principe-Social Democratic Party or MLSTP-PSD [Manuel Pinto Da COSTA]; Party for Democratic Convergence or PCD [Armindo AGUIAR, secretary general]; other small parties
International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, CEEAC, ECA, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, International Maritime Organization, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ITU, NAM, OAU, United Nations, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, World Tourism Organization, World Trade Organization (applicant)
Diplomatic representation in the US: São Tomé and Príncipe does not have an embassy in the US, but does have a Permanent Mission to the UN, headed by First Secretary Domingos Augusto FERREIRA, located at 122 East 42nd Street, Suite 1604, New York, NY 10168, telephone  (212) 317-0533
Diplomatic representation from the US: the US does not have an embassy in São Tomé and Príncipe; the Ambassador to Gabon is accredited to São Tomé and Príncipeon a nonresident basis and makes periodic visits to the islands
Flag description: three horizontal bands of green (top), yellow (double width), and green with two black five-pointed stars placed side by side in the center of the yellow band and a red isosceles triangle based on the hoist side; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia