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Mr. Fofana Goes to Washington and Has “Emotional Reunion” with Foundation Advising Guinea on Its Elections

September 1, 2010

From the website of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)

Foreign Affairs Minister Visits IFES

Elections, Democracy Assistance, Civil Society

August 10, 2010 – IFES

Presented Mr. Fofana with a Waterford crystal replica of the United States Capitol.

Foreign Affairs Minister Bakary Fofana visited IFES’s headquarters on August 10, 2010. Minister Fofana, in Washington on an official visit, met with IFES staff on what he called an emotional reunion with long-time colleagues.

Minister Fofana is part of the interim government created after Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, who took over Guinea in a bloodless coup d’etat after the death of long-time dictator Lansana Conté, suffered grave wounds from a gunshot. Under the leadership of Acting President Sékouba Konaté and Prime Minister Jean Marie Doré, the interim government is charged with guiding Guinea through its first set of truly democratic elections. The first round of presidential polls took place on June 27, 2010. The run-off for this poll has just been scheduled for September 19.

Minister Fofana visited with IFES accompanied by a delegation of Guinean officials, including the Guinea Ambassador to the United States. The Guinean officials met with

Vice President for Programs Michael Svetlik, IFES Regional Director Almami Cyllah and other members of the Africa team.

Mr. Svetlik opened the meeting by saying IFES was honored by the visit and would like to utilize the opportunity to talk about how IFES can continue helping Guinea in its democratic development.

Minister Fofana expressed his joy at being back at IFES, a place he considers to be a second home. He said IFES has been instrumental in Guinea’s democratic evolution and will no doubt continue to provide the support and guidance Guinea needs as it continues its democratic journey.

Mr. Fofana praised IFES approach to its work in Guinea, saying IFES is good at leaving room for creativity and understands very well the political realities on the ground. Elizabeth Côté, IFES’s chief of party in Guinea, received a lot of praise from Mr. Fofana. He said she is a true visionary who deserves much credit for the current developments in Guinea.

Minister Fofana stressed that the work IFES does in Guinea affects all of West Africa. He said it is no coincidence that soon after Guinea’s election in June, Cote d’Ivoire set their election date.

He also reminded those present at the meeting that even though the June election and the upcoming run-off mark the fulfilment of a critical goal, our work is far from done. Our efforts must now be redoubled as the new government needs guidance. He said the three areas that will need most help are capacity building  in the new national assembly, reforming the justice sector, and educating the population about the new constitution.

Minister Fofana is greatly praised within and outside Guinea for his indefatigable efforts in boosting civil society and bringing true democracy to Guinea. He served as executive director of the only NGO in Guinea working on trade issues, the International Centre for Trade and Development (CECIDE), advocating for more international economic partnerships, transparency in extractive industries, and promoting and monitoring the Kimberly process. As a member of the Africa Social Forum and the international organizing committee of the World Social Forum, he initiated the first Guinean social forum, and the first West Africa Social Forum. He was also instrumental in the Ouagadougou Accords which established the interim government.

Minister Fofana has collaborated closely with IFES. As the former Acting Chair of Civil Society Organizations, he worked side by side with Elizabeth Côté. Minister Fofana also worked with IFES as program director in 2007 and has done many missions for the organization all over Africa. 

Mr. Cyllah closed the meeting by expressing his profound joy of having Minister Fofana, a longtime friend and partner in his quest to help Africa develop its democratic institutions, in Washington. He presented Mr. Fofana with a Waterford crystal replica of the United States Capitol.

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