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VOA’s Shaka Ssali Moderates Ugandan Presidential Debate

Shaka Ssali, host and managing editor of Voice of America’s TV and radio program Straight Talk Africa, was selected to serve as one of three moderators for the Uganda presidential debate in Kampala, Uganda on February 13, 2016. Ugandans go to the polls on February 18 to elect a new president from among eight candidates, including longtime President Yoweri Museveni.

Ssali was joined by retired journalist Joel Kibazo and Makerere University professor Suzie Muwanga to moderate the debate, which was viewed by millions in Uganda.

“We are honored that Shaka Ssali was invited to be a moderator for Uganda’s presidential debate ahead of the country’s national elections. VOA is a source of reliable news and information for Ugandan audiences, and we take very seriously the public trust that has been invested in Shaka - one of our most senior journalists - to ask the presidential candidates some important questions,” said Sonya Laurence Green, Chief of VOA’s English-to-Africa service, which produces Straight Talk Africa.

The invitation to moderate comes at a special time for Ssali and his colleagues as they celebrate 15 years of broadcasting Straight Talk Africa to audiences around the continent. On the program, Ssali and his guests have examined the controversies and opportunities facing Africa. Everyone gets to express an opinion or share a thought - from special guests, newsmakers, and politicians, to ordinary people who call, email, tweet, or use Facebook to participate in the discussion. The topic of discussion for next week’s program, which will be hosted by Shaka from Kampala, will be the Uganda presidential and parliamentary elections.

Ssali, a Ugandan-born U.S. citizen, holds a doctorate in cross-cultural communication and history from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and is a former Ford Foundation Fellow. Ssali has also received a number of awards including a United Nations Peacekeeping Special Achievement Award in International Journalism and VOA's Best Journalist Award. Since Straight Talk Africa first went on the air, Ssali has interviewed leaders from around the world, including former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Zambian President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Straight Talk Africa airs every Wednesday at 1830-1930 UTC and is simulcast to millions of audience members on radio, television, and the internet.

VOA’s English-to-Africa Service is one of the most successful international broadcast operations in Africa, delivering dynamic multimedia programming, and timely news and information.

VOA reaches a global weekly audience of more than 187 million people in over 40 languages. VOA programs are delivered on satellite, cable, shortwave, FM, medium wave, streaming audio and video and more than 2,350 media outlets worldwide. It is funded by the U.S. Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors.