Cape Verde’s Pires Discusses Post-Prize Plans

Posted October 11th, 2011 at 6:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Cape Verde's former president, Pedro Pires, who won a a $5-million prize for good governance in Africa, says he will use the money to help “fulfill some ideas and dreams.

Mr. Pires told VOA Tuesday he does not intend to continue in politics. But the president, who stepped down this year after two terms in office, says he is thinking about the future and says he is certain he will take on new missions.

Mr. Pires also challenged African leaders to avoid being “defeatist or pessimist,” saying the continent will have new opportunities to grow economically and develop.

He said the key is that Africa need to develop its internal capacities, taking advantage of local resources, like agricultural land.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation named Mr. Pires the winner of its 2011 prize Monday.

He is the first winner since 2008. The prize committee decided in 2009 and 2010 no African leader met the criteria, which include promoting democracy and handing over power peacefully.

Mr. Pires completed two terms as the democratically-elected president of Cape Verde, an archipelago off Africa's west coast. 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 Monday 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 former Botswana president Festus Mogae and Mozambique's former president Joaquim Alberto Chissano.