Former Cape Verde Leader Wins Africa Leadership Prize

Posted October 10th, 2011 at 10:20 am (UTC-5)
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Cape Verde's former president, Pedro Pires, has won a $5 million prize for good governance in Africa.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation named Mr. Pires the winner of its 2011 prize Monday at a news conference in London.

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Pires said he had “no idea” how he would spend the award money. He said he is not wealthy after dedicating his life to public service.

Mr. Pires is the first winner of the Ibrahim Prize since 2008 because the previous two years, the prize committee decided no African leader met the criteria for the award, which include promoting democracy and handing over power peacefully.

Mr. Pires stepped down from power this year after completing two terms as the democratically-elected president of Cape Verde . The prize committee noted that Mr. Pires dismissed suggestions the constitution be altered so he could run again.

During his time in office, per capita income in Cape Verde increased, despite continuing drought and poor natural resources.

Mr. Pires said he has always dreamed of “a more just and peaceful world,” one where, in his words, “force is not the only argument and where there is a place for reason.”

The Ibrahim Foundation was set up in 2006 by Sudanese businessman Mo Ibrahim to promote good leadership in Africa.

Winners of the Ibrahim Prize get $5 million over 10 years and $200,000 annually thereafter.

Prize winners are selected by an eight-person committee that includes former U.N. chief Kofi Annan and Mohamed El Baradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Past winners of the prize are Botswana's former president Festus Mogae and Mozambique's former president Joaquim Alberto Chissano.