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 Home > News & Policies > June 2006

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 27, 2006

President Meets with National Endowment for Democracy Award Recipients
The Oval Office

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2:22 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: It has been my honor to welcome four amazing individuals to the Oval Office. These four folks are from the continent of Africa. They're here to receive the National Endowment for Democracy's award, which is an award to honor courage and fortitude and strength in promoting freedom.

President George W. Bush meets with the National Endowment for Democracy award recipients in the Oval Office Tuesday, June 27, 2006. From left, they are Alfred Taban of Sudan, Dr. Reginald Matchaba-Hove of Zimbabwe, Immaculee Birhaheka of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zainab Hawa Bangura of Sierra Leone. White House photo by Kimberlee Hewitt And we have had an amazing discussion. My spirits are enriched by talking to freedom lovers and freedom fighters. We've got a man from the Sudan who talked eloquently about free press. We had a doctor from Zimbabwe who talked about the human condition and the need for the United States to make sure we stay engaged with the democracy movements and help people who are hungry.

I talked to two really unusual ladies, one from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is very concerned about free elections, and she wants to make sure people in the rural part of her country are represented in free elections.

And then we had an amazing discussion with a lady from Sierra Leone, but who's working in Liberia. And one of the most amazing stories is when she recounted the fact that she was escaping Liberia in the mid-1990s and had to get on a fishing boat to escape the authorities who wanted to bring -- to do her harm because she expressed her desire for people to be free.

Again, I want to thank all of you for doing what you have done. I'm proud to be in your company. I'm proud to have you here in the Oval Office. 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 is not just -- belongs to the American citizens, freedom belongs to everybody. And you're courageous in your fight and your desire to spread the concept of freedom.

Congratulations on winning a very important award. Congratulations on being so courageous. Thank you all for coming.

END 2:25 P.M. EDT