Building Institutions and the Tradeoff Between Democracy and Stability

Africa - Somaliland
Somaliland : Building Institutions and the Tradeoff Between Democracy and Stability - Sarah Cooper


Ever since the collapse of the central Somali state in 1991, the unrecognized northern state of Somalia, Somaliland, has operated under independent parallel institutions of governance. Upon achieving de facto independence, Somaliland faced the twin challenges of restoring peace and forming new political institutions. Development practitioners often point to the relative peace, stability and modest economic growth that Somaliland has enjoyed since this time as proof that democracy delivers. This paper, however, seeks to debunk the myth of a democratic Somaliland and contends that a closer analysis of the history of this transition and of Somaliland’s governing institutions reveals that the territory’s leaders prioritized peace over democracy. The composition and role of the Guurti or House of Elders, the continuing role of the clan system in politics, and the explicit limitation on the number of political parties constrict political space. However, they also encourage peace by giving all of the major political actors a stake in the territory’s governance. Somaliland’s recent political trajectory shows how to transform a politics of war into a politics of consensus, and suggests that power-sharing arrangements—rather than deep democratization—may play an important transitional role in post-conflict countries.


“The Republic of Somaliland, the secessionist northwestern slice of Somalia that declared independence in 1991, has a far better democratic track record than any of its neighbors despite, or perhaps because of, a dearth of assistance from the international community.”1

Ever since the collapse of the central Somali state in 1991, the unrecognized northern state of Somalia, Somaliland, has operated under independent parallel institutions of governance. A president is elected for a five-year term and holds the power to nominate ministers subject to parliamentary approval. A bicameral legislature is divided into an upper chamber known as the Guurti or House of Elders, comprised of unelected members nominated by the clan authorities, and a lower chamber, the House of Representatives, comprised of 82 directly-elected representatives. In recent years, Somaliland has achieved relative peace and stability while the southern territories of Somalia continue to suffer from profound insecurity and a lack of legitimate governance. As a result, there has been a tendency amongst development practitioners to treat Somaliland as Somalia’s photographic negative. Whereas Somalia is viewed as a country beset by intractable conflicts between militarized clans, Somalilandis frequently depicted in development literature as a peaceable territory governed by democratic institutions that transcend clan cleavages.

This paper seeks to debunk the myth of a democratic Somaliland through a careful analysis of the history of its independence movement and political transition. Faced with the twin challenges of restoring peace and developing new political institutions, Somaliland’s de facto independence leaders consistently prioritized peace over deep democratic reforms. The composition and role of the Guurti or House of Elders, the continuing role of the clan system in politics, and the explicit limitation on the number of political parties, in particular, constrict political space but encourage peace by giving all of the major political actors a stake in the governance of the territory. The Somaliland example therefore suggests that power-sharing arrangements may play an important transitional role in post-conflict countries.

Although Somaliland is not a paragon of democracy, its populace has made significant achievements rebuilding their nation and transitioning from a politics of war to a politics of consensus in a short period of time. These gains should not be understated. Clan identities remain central to any understanding of politics in Somaliland and any future political reforms must strike a delicate balance between promoting consensus and power-sharing amongst clans, while also providing ample political space for new voices and actors.

The Somali Clan System and Political Mobilization

Takaa ama bur ka anaw ama badhtanka kaga jiri. (Either lead or be led by your clan, but do not stand aside.)— Somali Proverb2

The Somali clan system has underpinned social relations in the region ever since its earliest recorded history and is crucial to any understanding of current political dynamics. Somalis believe that they are descended from the same mythical founding father Samaale, whose offspring formed the six major Somali clans: the Dir, the Darod, the Isaaq, the Hawiye, the Digil and the Rahamwayen.3,4 In the territory of present day Somaliland, the predominant clans are the Isaaq, the Dir and the Darod/Harti.5

In pre-colonial Somalia, clans primarily functioned as emotive kinship groups that could mobilize resources on a large scale to cope with the harsh realities of the Somali climate and territory. Drought and security imperatives constantly rearranged constellations of power between the clans, preventing the rise of a permanent institutionalized hierarchy. Clan membership thus served as one of many vectors for transmitting social expectations. Individuals also owed allegiance to immediate family members, one’s direct lineage, and clan-families comprised of several allied clans.6

Clans first began to function explicitly as political units at the time of independence. From the late nineteenth century onwards, the British administered northern Somalia—including the present-day territory of Somaliland—primarily valuing the region as a port of supply for their military base at Aden.

When Southern Somalia came under Italian administration, the colonial authorities played a more active role in encouraging development, particularly during the Fascist period, during which time the colony was viewed as a potential homeland for Italy’s surplus population. In 1948, the United Nations ceded control of southern Somalia to Italy under a ten-year trusteeship. The Italians began to prepare the colony for independence, and the British followed suit. The two former colonies immediately faced questions of how to unite different currencies, judicial systems, police forces, government structures, requirements for joining the army, and systems of taxation and education. Reconciling the relative underdevelopment of the formerly British north also proved difficult, and northern fears of marginalization in the unified territory exacerbated tensions along a north-south axis that presaged the attempted secession of Somaliland in the 1990s. For example, the June 1961 national constitution submitted for ratification bore no significant modifications from a draft constitution the Italians had helped the south to design, and many northerners felt excluded from the constitution-making process.7

With the introduction of electoral politics in Italian Somalia in 1954, candidates began to mobilize votes from within their clan families. Political parties with weak ideological platforms but clear clan ties proliferated, as clans and then sub-clans that felt marginalized in larger parties organized to form their own parties. By the time of the 1964 elections, Somalia had more political parties per capita than any other country excepting Israel.8

 Although the first prime minister, Abdirashid Ali Shermaarke, took care to preserve a regionally balanced cabinet, clan-based infighting over the electoral spoils soon paralyzed his administration and paved the way for Siyad Barre’s military coup in 1969.

The Breakaway of Somaliland

“Having experienced the devastation wrought by a regime based on dictatorship and a policy of divide and rule to which the country was subjected for over twenty years; and ever vigilant of the return of such a regime…the people of Somaliland hereby approve and proclaim to the whole world… that this constitution has been adopted as the nation’s Constitution.”9

Following his October 1969 military coup, Siyad Barre immediately suspended Somalia’s constitution, outlawed all political and professional organizations and instituted a policy of Scientific Socialism.10 To maintain power in the absence of widespread public support, particularly after the failed Ogaden War with Ethiopia from 1977 to 1978, Barre increasingly relied on clan-based patronage, fostering rivalries through the strategic distribution of government posts, arms, and funds to keep his opponents divided.11 The government also mobilized inter-clan rivalries through explicit divide and rule strategies.12 Over time, members of Barre’s own Marehan clan from within the Darod came to occupy a disproportionate share of key posts in the government and military. From the 1980’s onwards, Barre also depended on foreign aid from the United States and the Western powers to maintain his increasingly tenuous grip on authority.

Despite some initial enthusiasm for Siyad Barre’s regime in the north, a period of prolonged famine (the Abaartii Dabadheer of 1974-1975), caused public opinion to coalesce in opposition to the central government, which responded poorly to the crisis. The introduction of price controls under Scientific Socialism disrupted markets for food, effectively halting trade along the historic Arabian-Somaliland-Ethiopian axis, which was the traditional coping mechanism in the face of drought.13 Over 20,000 individuals died in the north, and between 10 to 15% of the population was forced into refugee camps.14 As the famine persisted, the government experimented with a resettlement policy, transferring more than 100,000 pastoralists from the north to more arable lands in the south.15 The refugee crisis was exacerbated during the Ogaden War. By 1979, official records document the presence of 1.3 million refugees in Somalia, more than half of whom were from the north.16 According to these statistics, one in four inhabitants of northern Somalia was a refugee, placing extreme pressure on resources and services already over-stretched in the wake of the 1974-1975 famine.17 By 1981, a conglomeration of Isaaq businessmen, religious leaders, intellectuals, and former army officers organized to form the Somali National Movement (SNM) and began to carry out guerrilla activities against the government in Mogadishu.18 The ensuing period from 1987 to 1991, when armed conflict broke out between the central government and the SNM, took a terrible toll on Somaliland. SNM rebels laid siege to several towns, including Hargeisa—the regional capital and former capital of British Somaliland—and, in response, the central Somali government’s air force conducted bombing raids to recapture the city. The attacks killed thousands of civilians, provoking an international outcry and triggering the suspension of foreign assistance. An estimated 100,000 northerners lost their lives in the fighting, with as many as 50,000 dying in the siege of Hargeisa alone.19 Up to 80% of the buildings in Hargeisa, including critical infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals, were destroyed in government-sponsored bombing attacks, and as much as half of the region’s livestock perished.20,21 Special troops known as the Isaaq Extermination Wing ravaged the rural areas, poisoning wells, plundering livestock, and even burning down entire villages.22 In 1991, a Grand Conference of the Northern Peoples held at Burco declared Somaliland’s independence under pressure from the SNM and a group of clan elders who would later be incorporated into the Somaliland government as the Guurti.

Somaliland Electoral Politics

“We may act as a democracy, but we know nothing works in this country without the clans and their interest.”23 

After declaring independence, Somaliland seemed poised to devolve into internecine violence. During the early days of the liberation struggle, clan-based persecution at the hands of Siyad Barre united the Isaaq and provided a basis for a nascent national identity.24 Soon, however, the SNM began to fracture along sub-clan lines and militant groups clashed over control of the strategic port of Berbera and parts of Burco. The Guurti negotiated a ceasefire and called for a series of shiir beeleed (clan peace conferences) to prevent a return to full-out civil war.25 In the absence of a strong central state, the Guurti emerged as national power brokers. Unlike in southern Somalia, where the Juba and Shebelle Rivers enabled the growth of sedentary agriculture, the economy of Somaliland remained largely pastoral and nomadic. To be economically viable, agreements therefore had to be reached on important issues such as water rights and land management.26 Somali clan elders had traditionally negotiated such agreements amongst themselves, and after the independence struggle they stepped forward into the vacuum left by the state to again assume this role.

The 1993 Borama Conference resulted in the creation of many of Somaliland’s present day political institutions. Notably, the Conference determined that the so-called Beel System would govern the territory: a bicameral parliament with members to be nominated on a clan basis by an electoral college of clan elders. A final shiir beeleed convened in Hargeisa from October 1996 to February 1997, adopting both a draft constitution and a timetable for the transition from clan-based politics to a multiparty system.27

In May 2001, the new territory approved the constitution through a popular plebiscite, and elections for twenty-three district councils took place in December 2002.

Analysis of the institutions thus established suggests that Somaliland’s post-independence leaders sought to promote peace and prevent clan infighting through power-sharing arrangements while democracy was only a secondary consideration. The 2002 district council elections and the Somaliland Political Party Law signed on August 6, 2000, proved especially decisive for Somaliland’s political trajectory and institution-building processes. Based on the Nigerian model, the Political Party Law stipulates that a party’s performance in local council elections will determine whether it should be granted legal authority to contest future elections.28 Article 9 limits the total number of political parties to three and states that it is illegal for parties to be constituted on the basis of clan or regional identity. Parties must also obtain a minimum threshold of 20% of all votes cast in four of Somaliland’s six regions to be recognized.29 If less than three parties meet this bar, then the three parties receiving the highest percentage of votes in all regions will be recognized. To further support the formation of parties with nation-wide rather than clan appeal alone, the Law requires each party to draft a program addressing peace and stability, the use of natural resources, environmental protection, the promotion of science and industry, and the advancement of health, welfare, education, and religion.30

The letter of the Somaliland Political Party Law is progressive, but it generated significant controversy in practice when the sitting governments interpreted it to mean that only those three parties that met the requirements during the 2002 district council elections are to be recognized.31 When combined with Article 6, which prohibits independent candidates from standing for election, this places a significant limit on political space. For example, a new party, Qaran, sought to begin the registration process in April 2007, but was barred on the grounds that no new parties can be recognized.32

Technical shortcomings of the 2002 elections also undermine the democratic legitimacy of the three currently authorized parties. Voting did not take place in some parts of Sool—a territory of eastern Somaliland contested by neighboring Puntland—because of security concerns, and there were widespread occurrences of multiple voting.33 Political participation by members of the Warsengeli and Dulbahante clans in these regions has remained extremely low when compared to the rest of the population since the 2002 elections.34 In the absence of an official census, the electoral commission developed a process of using indelible ink and identification by clan elders to determine eligibility to vote.35 However, the indelible ink proved easy to bleach away and all parties took advantage of this discovery.36

Overall voter turnout in Somaliland is also low, which casts doubt on the credibility of the election results. Citing statistics from the African Elections Database, the Somaliland Non-State Actors Forum—a local civil society coalition—notes that 488,000 ballots were cast in the 2003 presidential elections, 670,000 in the 2005 elections for the House of Representatives, and 538,000 for the 2010 presidential elections.37 The total estimated population of Somaliland is 3 million, which suggests that elected candidates have only a weak mandate from the public, with voter turnout of less than 25% in each election. Voting is also thought to have been particularly low among pastoral populations, perhaps due to a provision in the electoral code requiring individuals to vote at the same polling station where they registered.

Such provisions could be expected to effectively disenfranchise Somaliland’s substantial nomadic population.38 Moreover, the political platforms of the three recognized parties remain weakly developed and clan affiliation tends to dictate party loyalty.39 The three major parties that emerged from the 2003 elections are the Democratic United Peoples’ Movement (UDUB), Kulmiye, and the Party for Justice and Democracy (UCID). UDUB draws its support primarily from the Gadbuursi and the Habar Yoonis clans, the Kulmiye is largely supported by the Habar Jeclo clan, and UCID’s supporters are overwhelmingly ‘Idagale or members of smaller clan families based around Hargeisa.40 In 2005, UDUB campaigned on a platform of experience and continuity, emphasizing its track record for stability.41 Kulmiye, the party of current president Ahmed M. Mohamoud ‘Silanyo’, capitalized on its popular legitimacy during the 2005 campaign, noting that many of its members were prominent leaders of the SNM.42 UCID is the only one of three parties to espouse even a weak ideological platform. Its founder, Faisal Ai Farah ‘Warabe’ lived in Finland, and attempted to model the party on Scandinavian social democratic parties.43 However, the campaign trail rhetoric of many of the members of parliament who represented UCID in 2005 suggests that they were unaware of their party’s social-democratic orientation.44

A lack of party whips also contributes to weak party platforms and clan-based politicking. Because members of parliament have no institutional incentives to vote in accordance with the party line, their continued loyalty is often secured through clan channels.45

To stand as a candidate for political office individuals must raise their own funds, and estimates from the 2005 legislative elections suggest that campaigns cost approximately $30,000 USD to mount.46

This allows clan leaders to exercise a vetting role in the nomination of party candidates, since most fundraising takes place through the clan.47 The continued influence of the clan on the nomination procedures has resulted in an underrepresentation of women, even though the National Electoral Commission estimates that women have comprised a majority of the voters in every election since 2002.48 Women may not be trusted to mobilize the clan vote, because they frequently marry into other clan families.49 Similarly, the minority Gabooye clan is numerically under-represented, which may reflect the limited influence of its elders on party nominations.50

The most striking example of power-sharing in Somaliland is the incorporation of the Guurti into parliament. The Somaliland House of Elders is a unique innovation that bolsters the influence of clan authorities in day-to-day governance. Although the constitution dictates that the House of Elders should be renewed every six years, it does not include any provisions detailing how this process should take place.51 As a result, the current House of Elders has been in power since 1997, and came under considerable criticism during the run-up to the 2010 presidential elections for unilaterally voting to extend then-President Riyale’s mandate three times, in what appeared to be an unconstitutional exercise of its authority.52 The members of the House of Elders have also come under criticism for allowing clan interests to be co-opted by the executive branch. However, the participation of the clan elders in a representative forum has prevented them from acting as spoilers to the peace process. In southern Somalia, by contrast, the clans have often positioned themselves as an alternative to a centralized state, preventing the consolidation of power and perpetuating conflict. By incorporating the clan elders into government, the leaders of Somaliland seem to have avoided this pitfall. Moreover, as state institutions have become stronger, the overt intervention of the clan elders in politics has declined. Clan elders are more likely to influence their representatives in the political parties through back-door channels such as patronage networks and vote-buying.53

Entrenched corruption may be expected to pose a challenge for Somaliland’s longer-term political development. In the short-term, however, the system has undeniably brought peace and stability and corruption does not seem to have negatively affected popular perceptions of the government. Opinion polling conducted by the International Republican Institute between September 28 and October 8, 2011 confirms that the government has widespread public support, finding that individuals had a largely positive view of the administration and gave the Somaliland government more credit for taking the territory ‘in the right direction’ than the Somaliland people.54 Nor has the preponderance of the clans in politics prevented peaceful transfers of power from taking place.

The Political Party Law also arguably helps to diffuse inter-clan rivalries. Limiting the total number of recognized parties to three has prevented a return to the fragmented party system of the 1960’s when every clan family and sub-clan sought to maximize its share of the political spoils by forming an independent party. Most of Somaliland’s current political leaders were also active during the Siyad Barre regime, and likely retain vivid memories of the chaotic party politics of the 1960’s. By contrast, the three authorized parties in Somaliland are big tent parties, and have had to forge alliances across clans to broaden their base of support.55 Kulmiye, for example, counts amongst its members the Red Flag (a group of former SNM officers with Marxist tendencies), a number of religious activists and the Hargeisa Group of civil activists who initially took a stand against Siyad Barre’s regime.56 Although the parties campaign on messages of regional identity, they regularly participate in multi-stakeholder and inter-party forums to publicly reaffirm their commitment to transparent and inclusive political processes.57


The complex system of grassroots institutions that has taken root since the Borama Conference of 1993 has transformed a politics of war into a politics of consensus, delivering a significant peace dividend to the territory of Somaliland. Yet contrary to the conventional wisdom of many development practitioners, Somaliland’s leaders after the independence struggle consistently prioritized peace over democracy when developing the territory’s independent institutions.

Many issues remain, including the fact that the political space is limited to three weakly differentiated parties that campaign along ethno-regional lines, women and minorities are significantly under-represented in political bodies, and an unelected House of Elders exercises substantial influence over the political process through vote-buying and patronage. These observations are not meant to diminish the significant achievements of Somaliland’s institutions, which have pacified a war-torn region, revived infrastructure devastated during the civil wars of the 1980’s, and helped to foster economic growth. Development practitioners would do well to recall, however, that these institutions arguably function not because they are democratic, but because they accord all of the major actors a stake in the political process without giving way to the fractious multiparty politics of the 1960’s. For those wishing to apply the lessons learned from Somaliland to peace processes in the southern parts of the territory, a push for deeper democracy seems to be the wrong conclusion. Instead, the Somaliland experience suggests a need for careful power-sharing arrangements as a transitional step on the path to democracy.

These arrangements should take clan interests and dynamics into account and should prioritize stability and peace over other potentially competing imperatives.

Notes & References

  1. Seth Kaplan, “The Remarkable Story of Somaliland,” Journal of Democracy, Vol.19, No. 3. ( July 2008):143.
  2. Hussein M. Adam, “Clan Conflicts and Democratization in Somalia,” Ethnic Conflict and Democratization in Africa, ed. Harvey Glickman, Georgia: The African Studies Association Press, 1995: 199.
  3. David D. Laitin and Said S. Samatar, Somalia: Nation in Search of a State, Boulder: Westview Press, 1987: 29.
  4. Laitin and Samatar, Somalia, 30.
  5. Markus V. Höhne, “Political identity, emerging state structures and conflict in northern Somalia,”Journal of Modern African Studies (2006), Vol. 44. Accessed 24 November 2012. <>
  6. Laitin and Samatar, Somalia, 31.
  7. Although a majority of southerners ratified the constitution, less than fifty percent of the north voted in favor of accepting the document. See Laitin and Samatar, Somalia, 71.
  8. Laitin and Samatar, Somalia, 69.
  9. Jama, Ibrahim Hashi, The (Interim) Constitution of Somaliland (1997), 18 March 2013, <>.
  10. In an effort to craft a national identity, Siyad Barre indentified tribalism in the history of Somalia with the class struggle in Europe and argued that Somalis should seek to liberate themselves from arbitrary distinctions imposed by clan lineage. His official ideology encompassed three elements: a self-reliant community, socialism based on Marxist principles and Islam.
  11. U.S. Library of Congress, Siad Barre and Scientific Socialism, (1992), 17 March 2013, <>.
  12. Martin Meredith, The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence, (New York: Public Affairs, 2005), 468.
  13. For example, posting predominately Isaaq military officials to Majerteen areas where the government was waging war against the local population. Ahmed and Green 118.
  14. Ismail I. Ahmed and Reginald Herbold Green, “The Heritage of war and state collapse in Somalia and Somaliland: local-level effects, external interventions and reconstruction,” Third World Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 1 (1999): 117.
  15. Ibid., 117.
  16. Ibid., 117.
  17. Ibid., 118.
  18. Ibid., 118.
  19. Although independence for the former territory of British Somaliland was not immediately an explicit aim of the SNM when the group formed in 1981, the group’s rejection of Siyad Barre’s authority was rooted in old fears about southern political domination at the expense of northern groups. Eventually, the SNM would develop a unique political identity based on the shared experience of persecution by the central regime, and life in predominantly Isaaq refugee camps. In 1991, the SNM would repudiate the 1960 reunification and seek recognition for the independence of the former territory of British Somaliland. (Bradbury, Abokor and Yusuf 457)
  20. Ahmed and Green, “The Heritage of war”, 119.
  21. Somaliland Non-State Actors Forum (SONSAF), Somaliland Elections Review Report, (March 2011) 24 November 2012 <>: 8
  22. Ahmed and Green, “The Heritage of war”, 119.
  23. Ahmed and Green, “The Heritage of war”, 119.
  24. Somaliland Non-State Actors Forum (SONSAF), 23.
  25. Marleen Renders and Ulf Terlinden, “Negotiating Statehood in a Hybrid Political Order: The Case of Somaliland,” Development and Change, Vol. 41(4), (2010): 729.
  26. It is not incidental to Somaliland’s subsequent political trajectory that the infighting between SNM factions had badly divided the Isaaq clan, allowing the non-Isaaq clans to participate in the institution-building process on a relative equal footing.
  27. Renders and Terlinden, “Negotiating Statehood”, 741.
  28. Policy consultants Stig Jarle Hansen and Mark Bradbury argue that the decision to shift towards a democratic system was primarily motivated by a desire for international recognition.
  29. Stig Jarle Hansen and Mark Bradbury. “Somaliland: A New Democracy in the Horn of Africa?” Review of African Political Economy, Vol. 34, No. 11 (September 2007):169.
  30. The Nigeria model was thought to have successfully integrated diverse ethnic groups into a national system.
  31. See Ibrahim Hashi Jama, “Somaliland Electoral Laws,” Somaliland Law Series (2009): 52
  32. Some sources say all of Somaliland’s six regions.
  33. Jama, “Somaliland”, 53.
  34. International Crisis Group, 12.
  35. Hansen and Bradbury, “Somaliland: A New Democracy” 469.
  36. Somaliland Non-State Actors Forum (SONSAF), Somaliland Elections, 11.
  37. Hansen and Bradbury, “Somaliland: A New Democracy”, 470.
  38. Somaliland Non-State Actors Forum (SONSAF), Somaliland Elections, 11.
  39. Ibid., 12.
  40. Ibid., 30.
  41. Ibid., 21.
  42. See Appendix A for a breakdown of voting by clan in the 2005 elections.
  43. International Crisis Group, 3.
  44. Hansen and Bradbury, “Somaliland: A New Democracy”, 466.
  45. Ibid.,466.
  46. Ibid.,466.
  47. Ibid.,467.
  48. Ibid.,468.
  49. Ibid.,467.
  50. Somaliland Non-State Actors Forum (SONSAF), Somaliland Elections, 30.
  51. Hansen and Bradbury, “Somaliland: A New Democracy”, 471.
  52. Ibid., 470
  53. Interpeace/Academy for Peace and Development, “A Vote for Peace: How Somaliland Successfully Hosted its First Parliamentary Elections in 35 Years,” (September 2006) 10 December 2012 <>: 23.
  54. International Crisis Group, 2.
  55. International Crisis Group, 2.
  56. Renders and Terlinden, “Negotiating Statehood”, 742
  57. International Republican Institute, “Somaliland Opinion Survey—Hargeisa District. (Fieldwork: September 28—October 8, 2011). 24 November 2012. <,%20September%2028-October%208,%202011_0.pdf>
  58. Hansen and Bradbury, “Somaliland: A New Democracy”, 468—470.
  59. Ibid., 468.
  60. Somaliland Non-State Actors Forum (SONSAF), Somaliland Elections, 29.
Sarah Cooper is a second year M.A. student and Bologna Center alumna concentrating in Conflict Management. Prior to graduate school, she worked for the National Democratic Institute of International Affairs in Washington, D.C. backstopping democracy and governance programs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Rwanda and Burundi. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service and a certificate in International Development from Georgetown University.