SEMINOLE — Mayor Leslie Waters has returned after two weeks spent coaching elected officials in eastern Africa on communications in democracy.
Waters was sent to Hargesia, Somaliland, by the International Republican Institute and the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide consulting services to more than 150 elected local government officials and political party leaders in Somaliland.
The nonprofit, nonpartisan IRI was formed in the early 1980s to advance freedom and democracy worldwide by developing political parties, civic institutions, open elections, democratic governance and the rule of law. USAID was formed by the federal government in 1961 to help advance foreign economic development. Its specific goal is to further America's foreign policy interests in expanding democracy and free markets.
Waters' seminars focused on ways to be more effective government officials, improve communications with their constituents, the importance of cooperation between elected and party officials on reaching out to residents, and the significance of planning and hosting of town hall meetings.
"Working with the good people of Somaliland was truly a humbling experience," Waters said. "It was my intention to help make a difference in helping to enhance their democracy and improve the political process for the benefit of all Somalilanders."
Somaliland is on the eastern African coast on the Gulf of Aden. It borders the Republic of Djibouti, Federal Republic of Ethiopia and Somalia. It is an unrecognized self-declared de facto sovereign state that is internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia. It has about 3.5 million people.
Information from somalilandgov.com, iri,org and usaid.gov was used in this report.