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Burundi's President Lauds VOA


Cites 'important role' broadcaster plays in promoting democratic process

Washington, D.C., February 11, 2009 - Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza today praised the Voice of America's (VOA) programs, saying the U.S. international broadcaster can play an important role in ensuring the 2010 presidential elections are fair and transparent.

"We know that the Voice of America programs can help Burundians understand better the (election) process, voice their opinions and make sure the voting is transparent," Nkurunziza said in an interview with VOA in Bujumbura, the capital. Nkurunziza said he would like to see VOA's Kirundi programs expanded.

Nkurunziza, who was elected in 2005, singled out for praise VOA's Ejo Bite? (What About the Future?) program, a weekly show aimed at young Burundians, including those who lived in refugee camps in Tanzania or who have returned to Burundi. The program is funded through a grant from the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

"The Voice of America plays a very important role, which we appreciate very much, in bringing Burundian youth together, especially those who are returning home from exile and those who stayed in the country," the president said.

"We enjoy listening to the programs of the Voice of America and many Burundians love the Voice of America," he added.

VOA's Central Africa Service (VOANews.com/centralafrica/), started in 1996, broadcasts an hour a day to Burundi and Rwanda in Kirundi and Kinyarwanda. Ejo Bite? airs weekly.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.

For more information, call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail askvoa@voanews.com.

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