Washington, D.C., Sept. 21, 2005 - Pierre Nkurunziza, the newly-elected president of Burundi, told the Voice of America (VOA) that one of his highest priorities is to secure peace talks with Burundi's last remaining Hutu-dominated rebel group, the Forces for National Liberation, in order to bring a lasting peace to his country.
"We know them well, we fought alongside them when we were in the bush and we are ready to enter a marathon negotiation session, if need be, to achieve a comprehensive peace accord," said President Nkurunziza.
Earlier this month, the rebel group rejected the newly formed government's invitation to join peace talks. Burundi government officials, however, say they are still determined to bring the holdout rebel group to the negotiating table.
During the exclusive interview with VOA's French and Kirundi Services broadcast today, Nkurunziza also vowed to restore social order to the country after twelve years of civil war. "First, we will pass an anti-corruption law and then we will put together a special anti-corruption brigade to enforce the law," said the Burundian president.
Nkurunziza's interview was aired on VOA's Kirundi and French radio programs and will be featured Thursday on VOA's TV-to-Africa program, Le Monde vu de Washington (Washington Forum), which airs at 1900 UTC to Francophone affiliates throughout Africa.
VOA airs seven hours of radio programming in the Kirundi language and 22.5 hours of French each week. In addition, French airs Le Monde vu de Washington (Washington Forum), a weekly 30-minute television program. Visit VOA's web site at www.VOANews.com for more information.
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 more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages.
# # #