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Bush Recognizes African Democracy Advocates


President Bush welcomed four Africans to the Oval Office to recognize their work in promoting democracy.

President Bush says the winners of the 2006 Democracy Awards have shown remarkable courage and strength in promoting freedom.

"We have had an amazing discussion. My spirits are enriched by talking to freedom lovers and freedom fighters," said Mr. Bush.

The awards are given by the non-profit National Endowment for Democracy, a bipartisan group promoting democracy in more than 90 countries.

President Bush met with the winners before their awards ceremony and congratulated them on their commitment to improving people's lives.

Those recognized are Alfred Taban, the publisher of Sudan's only independent English-language daily newspaper and Sierra Leonean Zainab Bangura who has worked to promote human rights in neighboring Liberia and is now the Chief Civil Affairs Officer in the U.N. mission there.

Zimbabwean Reginald Matchaba-Hove was recognized for his work on human rights and electoral law in Southern Africa.

The fourth recipient of this year's awards is Immaculee Birhaheka, who is one of the leading human rights activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo and serves as president of a group promoting initiatives to help women.

President Bush said he was proud to welcome the winners to the White House.

"I thank you for being witness to this universal fact, that liberty is universal in its application, that people everywhere desire to be free, that freedom does not just belong to American citizens. Freedom belongs to everybody," he added.

The president told the Democracy Award winners that he will remain engaged in working to end hunger and promote democracy in Africa.