1958 French Constitution In West Africa
The Fifth French Republican Constitution of 1958 made provision for a French Community. The community comprised France and all French colonial territories. The President of France presided over the community.
The constitution also had provision for the following:
- A Senate comprising representatives of member countries;
- A Court of Appeal;
- An Executive Council comprising the 13 Heads of State of /member countries. The French President was the chairman of the council, which was an advisory body.
- The member countries were not independent as France continued to deal with matters relating to transport, finance and the economy.
On 28th September 1958, the African member-countries of the French Community were given the opportunity to vote in a referendum whether or not they supported the 1958 Constitution.
A “Yes” vote meant that the country would continue to be a member of the community and enjoy French foreign aid while a “No” vote signified complete independence but a cessation of all French aid and technical assistance.
Guinea under President Sekou Touie, was the only country which voted against the constitution As a result of this historic decision, the French withdrew almost everything they had in the country in a seemingly punitive measure designed to bring the country down.
Guinea nevertheless managed to survive the political, economical and diplomatic embargo.