After World War II, the colonies of French West Africa began pushing significantly for increased self-determination and to redefine their colonial relationships with France. Following the May 1958 crisis, the colonies of French West Africa were given the chance to vote for immediate independence or to join a reorganized (an arrangement which would grant the colonies some self-determination while maintaining ties to France). Only Guinea voted for full independence and the other colonies of French West Africa voted to join the French Community.
In the 1958 election to decide the issue of independence, two major parties split the countries of west Africa: the African Democratic Rally (French: Rassemblement Démocratique Africain, commonly known as the RDA) and the African Regroupment Party (French: Parti du Regroupement Africain, commonly known as the PRA). The two regional groupings of parties struggled against one another on the issue of independence and the extent of ties with France. The RDA was the governing party in the Ivory Coast colony, the French Sudan colony, and Guinea while the PRA was a major governing party in Senegal and had sizable majorities in many countries. The two parties also were part of coalition governments in French Upper Volta, Niger, and French Dahomey. While the two parties struggled with one another to shape the political future of the region, Mauritania often became a neutral party which would break any deadlocks. The vote of 1958 revealed a number of divisions within the parties. The RDA held a congress on 15 November 1958 to discuss the recent election results and the division became clear with Modibo Keïta from French Sudan and
Doudou Gueye from Senegal arguing for primary federation (a federation which would include France and the colonies in a unified system) and Félix Houphouët-Boigny of the Ivory Coast dismissing the idea. The resulting deadlock was so severe that the meeting was officially said to have never taken place.