Voice of America has launched its new Somali-language radio program.

The new half-hour program will air in Somalia seven days a week on AM, FM and shortwave radio.

Monday's inaugural broadcast featured interviews with Somalia's interim President Abdullahi Yusuf, and a spokesman for the recently ousted Islamist movement.

Several affiliates in the region were set to carry the program, including HornAfrik radio in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

The new program airs each day at 16 hours universal time (or 7 p.m. in Somalia). It will be repeated one hour after the initial broadcast.

This is VOA's first broadcast in the Somali language since 1994.

VOA Director Dan Austin says providing Somalis with accurate, objective and timely news is vital during what he calls a critical time in the country's history.

Somalia's interim government is trying to assert its authority after driving a rival Islamist movement from power with the help of Ethiopian troops.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991, when warlords drove dictator Mohamed Siad Barre from power.