Jorge Guzman explains the role of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Program Management Unit (PMU) in the 2007 and 2008 elections in Sierra Leone. He discusses how to coordinate efforts and negotiate competing requests from donors and national institutions while still operating within the constraints imposed by the UNDP framework. He describes how tension was minimized through negotiations and steering committee meetings with the diplomatic corps and the government. He explains how the final election date was kept stable, as constantly changing elements like procurement and recruitment procedures affected timelines. He describes how the National Election Committee was restructured, with positions being chosen based on merit through a detailed selection process. He also explains how the transparency and efficiency of the NEC was established through the formation of explicit procedures and guidelines and the publishing of the results of election procedures like registration, the nomination of candidates, and the counting and tallying of votes. He finishes with a discussion of training a diverse group of people, emphasizing the importance of considering context and fostering unity to successfully implement democracy on a day-to-day basis.
At the time of this interview, Jorge Guzman was the program manager of the Program Management Unit for the UNDP in Sierra Leone. He has extensive experience in public relations and administration issues related to elections, having worked with the UN in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor, Nigeria, and Pakistan. He has been a BRIDGE facilitator, and part of the ACE Electoral Knowledge Network.