After the conclusion of a tumultuous process of Guyana’s 2020 Election, trust in electoral and governance systems has begun to dwindle and political cleavages have begun to deepen, further polarizing the nation along ethnic and political lines. IRI fosters coalition building, empowering local partners, and national reconciliation on polarizing national issues to reinforce democracy.

Guyanese citizens line up to vote

To support democracy, transparency, and active civil society participation in Guyana, IRI is implementing a variety of programs ranging from providing electoral technical expertise for all stakeholders to advocating for an educated, empowered, and trained civil society. In an effort to combat the deepening fractures and increase institutional capacity the Institute devised a two-prong approach.

To increase capacity and solidify democratic pillars, IRI is working with experts attached to the Attorney General’s Chambers and the General Elections Commission (GECOM) and accessible to Guyanese stakeholders to engender improved technical knowledge and foster discourse around electoral reforms. Through this project, GECOM, the Attorney General’s Chambers, and Guyanese civil society organizations (CSOs) will have the opportunity to collaboratively consolidate and improve local electoral and constitutional law knowledge, establish an internal timeline to address electoral reform, improve collaboration for joint advocacy actions, and prioritize electoral and constitutional law issues while promoting reform through citizen engagement.  The program focuses on strengthening the ability of key actors to work with CSOs to promote and implement electoral reforms in accordance with international best practices.  

In order to address the deepening national cleavages, the Institute proposed a national poll to gather data surrounding contentious issues. IRI has been meeting with a variety of stakeholders to consolidate topics and themes for this national poll, ensuring diverse and multi-faceted input in its construction. The Institute will support consensus building practices on the identified key national issues by training civil society and youth leaders on the techniques of consensus building and conflict resolution and supporting a small-scale pilot project aimed at kickstarting reconciliation efforts in Guyana.

The collaboration of democratic institutions and CSOs is integral to the success of the program in Guyana as it contributes to a long-term collaborative space. 

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