WASHINGTON, D.C., May 11, 2015 –Voice of America today began boosting broadcasts to Burundi where at least 14 people have been killed and more than 200 injured in protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza running for a third term.
VOA has additional shortwave and FM broadcasts in Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, Kiswahili, French, and English with an expanded call-in show, more reporting from the ground, and new drive-time newscasts.
“At this critical moment for democracy in Burundi, we are stepping up to keep our audiences informed,” says VOA Director David Ensor. “Voters deserve to know what is going on with presidential elections just one month away.”
The African Union and the United States say the Nkurunziza candidacy violates a regional peace deal that ended civil war in 2005. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the president’s move “flies directly in the face of the constitution of his country.”
President Nkurunziza says he is exempt from the two-term limit because his first term was chosen by parliament.
VOA is one of the last remaining sources of news in Burundi after authorities blocked access to social media, closed Radio Publique Africane, and suspended relay transmissions for two other independently owned stations — Bonesha FM and Isanganiro.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns this harassment and says the Nkurunziza government is “blatantly trying to gag” coverage of its opponents.
VOA is adding reporters in Burundi and Rwanda along with additional staff in Washington D.C., where its U.S. government-funded transmissions originate.
Daily broadcasts air on 95.2 FM and 94.9 FM in Bujumbura and on 104.3 FM in Kigali.
There are new VOA shortwave broadcasts from 04:00 to 05:30 UTC and from 19:30 to 20:00 UTC on 7350 kHz, 9815 kHz, and 11905 kHz; and from 16:00 to 16:30 UTC on 13630 kHz, 15460 kHz, and 17530 kHz.
“With thousands of Burundians fleeing to neighboring Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, VOA is committed to providing accurate and reliable news to this critical region,” says Ensor.
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VOA reaches a global weekly audience of more than 172 million people in nearly 50 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.