Supreme Commander

September 6 is the day of the Armed Forces of São Tomé and Príncipe.

As Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, the PR does not have a military-technical command, however, its command function is of a material or substantial nature in the democratic regime, because, on the one hand, as representative of the Republic and janitor of the state unit, it is the most adequate organ to prevent the Armed Forces of São Tomé and Príncipe (FASTP) from benefiting from party instrumentalisation. On the other hand, as a guarantor of the regular functioning of democratic institutions, it is the PR that, in case of a state of siege or state of emergency (Art. 80.a. g) of CRDSTP-2003), of the FASTP, in order to avoid that the situation of constitutional exception allows the assumption of the heads of state by the military chiefs.

With the changes to the Constitution made in September 2006, in addition to the PR being the commander of the Armed Forces (Article 77 of the CRDSTP-2003), the constitution established (own powers) in Article 80 b) it is incumbent upon the President of the Republic to exercise the functions of the commander of the Armed Forces.

The Constitution, with the changes in the powers of the PR, regarding internal politics, moves it away from the direction of the Defense and Security policy, and belongs to the Government. In accordance with Articles 37 (1), 38 (1) a) of the National Defense and Armed Forces Law (NDAFL).

With the aforementioned change, the reduction of these powers consubstanció in the reinforcement of power of the Government that under the terms of Article 111, a. f) of the CRDSTP-2003, appoints the holders of high military positions of the State.

This precept reveals a nonsense with the functions of the PR in Art. 77 of the CRDSTP of 2003, which should have the power to appoint the holders of high military positions of the State, as a way of having balance / concertation.

Under the PALOP, the President of the Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe is the only Head of State that does not appoint the holders of high military positions of the State.

However, with regard to the entire negotiation process for the conclusion of international agreements in the area of ​​Defense and Security, the conduct is the responsibility of the PR, in agreement with the Government.


Although the PR does not have a military-technical command in relation to the Armed Forces, nevertheless, the republican sense of the assignment to the Chief of State of the supreme command of the Armed Forces is not merely honorific or symbolic, it assumes a material or substantive nature, which guarantees the impartiality and supra-party nature of its correct constitutional functioning.

In these circumstances, and in accordance with the provisions of 35 of the NDAFL, the Commander of the Armed Forces comprises several rights and duties:


  • The duty to contribute, within the scope of its constitutional powers, to ensure the fidelity of the right to the Constitution and democratic institutions and to publicly express, on behalf of the Armed Forces, such fidelity;
  • Right to be informed by the Government about the situation of the Armed Forces and its elements;
  • Duty to advise the Government on the conduct of the National Defense policy;
  • Right to consult directly with the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces;
  • In case of war, the right to assume its superior leadership and duty to contribute to the maintenance of the defense spirit and the readiness of the Armed Forces to combat;
  • Right to confer, on its own initiative, military decorations; To occupy the first place in the hierarchy of the Armed Forces.


Combined with article 55, paragraph 1 of the LDNFA, in case of war the PR assumes the superior direction of the same, assisted by the Government, within the constitutional and legal competencies of each one.


In general terms, it is important to mention that the government is responsible for executing the National Defense policy (within the internal sphere and in normal time). Therefore, it is incumbent on the latter to conduct the defense policy, but no defense policy can be effectively carried out without the PR, and much less against it.

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