- Title: BURUNDI: Burundi hosts and wins Miss East Africa beauty pageant for first time.
- Date: 23rd December 2008
- Summary: VARIOUS OF MISS EAST AFRICA 2008 CONTESTANTS ON STAGE
- Embargoed: 7th January 2009 12:00
- Location: Burundi
- Country: Burundi
- Topics: Fashion
- Reuters ID: LVADIB32MSM8XUFMGOK5RRIWD3P
- Story Text: Beauty queens from all over East Africa gather in Burundi for the first time to select a champion. Burundi only became a member of the East African Community in June 2007.
Burundi hosted the Miss East Africa competition for the first time this year on Friday (December 19). The country become a member of the East African Community in June 2007.
The highly anticipated event took place in the capital Bujumbura which is on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.
26 contestants from Mauritius, Eritrea, Djibouti, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda and Burundi, took to the stage in a bid to outdo each other in their traditional and contemporary outfits.
Burundi has been unable to play host to such events in the past because of civil conflict.
However at a summit of regional leaders early this month, President Pierre Nkurunziza and Forces for National Liberation (FNL) leader Agathon Rwasa signed a communiquÃ© saying disarmament and demobilisation of rebels would start "without delay".
The government and FNL first reached a deal in principle in mid-2006 to halt two decades of violence that killed 300,000 people in the nation of eight million.
But the implementation of the peace agreement was delayed by a dispute over the insurgents' transformation into a political party.
Burundi's government is now also trying to promote peace and reconciliation and attract much-needed foreign investment. Officials campaigned heavily to host this event.
Their efforts bore fruit when a local beauty, 23-year-old law student Claudia Niyonzima, took the crown.
"Each of the contestants has a cause which she will focus on, there are a lot of things that are planned for her. For my country, and for the East African community, I know that there is a lot to be done," said Niyonzima.
It is the first time the pageant has been held outside Tanzania.
"I chose Burundi because the Ambassador of Burundi in Tanzania convinced me to do the event here. I had never been here before. I decided to come and see the place. I met the ministers, different people from organisations and supporters. So when I went back, I convinced my committee to come and do the event here. The event was very good, very nice," said Rena Callist, the pageant's chief organiser.
Although the event was too costly for many Burundians to watch at the cost of 150 U.S. dollars, those who were there thought it was a success.
"It was fantastic, for the first time Burundi managed to hold a memorable event. It was a spectacular show," said Oli Frank, an audience member.
"Miss Burundi spoke well of her country and I think that is what motivated the jury to select her," he added.
The winner took home several prizes, including a car worth 56,000 U.S. dollars.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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