Tue, Feb 13, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Johnson Sirleaf wins rare African leadership award

FIFTH WINNER:The ex-Liberian president won the prize created 12 years ago by a billionaire that is only awarded if a good candidate is found

The Guardian

Then-Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaks at a news conference in Monrovia on Oct. 12 last year.

Photo: Reuters

A coveted US$5 million prize for leadership in Africa has been won by former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The continent’s first-ever female head of state and Nobel peace prize laureate became only the fifth winner of the annual Ibrahim prize for achievement in African leadership since its launch in 2006, as it is only given out when there is deemed to be a worthy candidate.

Named for its creator, the British-Sudanese BT engineer turned telecommunications billionaire Mo Ibrahim, the prize carries an award of US$5 million paid out over 10 years and then US$200,000 each year for the rest of the winner’s life.

To qualify, African heads of state have to have left office during the past three calendar years, having been democratically elected and served their constitutionally mandated term.

Sirleaf left office last month, handing over to George Weah, a former international soccer star turned politician.

“Sirleaf took the helm of Liberia when it was completely destroyed by civil war and led a process of reconciliation that focussed on building a nation and its democratic institutions,” prize committee head Salim Ahmed Salim said.

“Throughout her two terms in office, she worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of Liberia. Such a journey cannot be without some shortcomings and, today, Liberia continues to face many challenges ... during her 12 years in office, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf laid the foundations on which Liberia can now build,” he said.

The previous laureates are former presidents Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007), Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008), Pedro Pires of Cabo Verde (2011), and Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia (2014).

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