The election of Guinea’s first-ever democratic and pluralist legislature in September 2013 marked a turning point in the country’s democratic transition and resulted in a successful resolution to a political crisis that had engulfed the country since the 2010 presidential election. Furthermore, the successful organization of the legislative elections has provided the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) and Guinean civil society with valuable experience on which to build for future electoral cycles.
To capitalize on this opportunity following the 2013 legislative elections, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) began programming with the overarching goal of supporting the Government of Guinea by strengthening legislative and political processes and developing capacity of new legislators and National Assembly staff. To this end, IFES set out the following program objectives:
- Improving the operational capacities of the CENI and its efforts to promote electoral reform;
- Supporting civil society organizations in their efforts to reach out to grassroots communities to increase their understanding of democratic principles, electoral processes, decentralization and engaged citizenship; and
- Building a bridge of transmission between the newly-elected National Assembly and its constituents.
Although the program was initially planned with local elections in mind, as the year 2014 went by, it became increasingly clear that the local elections would not take place that year. In addition, a political crisis that began in May 2014 and the 2014 Ebola epidemic further complicated Guinea’s democratic transition. In response to these crises, IFES deftly reoriented its programs to address these new challenges and ensure that project infrastructure was utilized to its fullest potential.