For second year running, organizers decide not to award $5 million African leadership prize

Sunday, June 13, 2010

No winner for $5 million African leadership prize

LONDON — For the second year in a row, organizers of a $5 million annual prize for good governance in Africa say they have decided not to give out the award.

The winner of the Ibrahim Prize for African leadership was to be announced Monday.

But the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, based in London, said Sunday the seven-member prize committee, led by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan, had not selected a winner.

Last year, the committee said it had considered “some credible candidates” but could not select a winner. The foundation said Sunday there had been “no new candidates or new developments” since then.

The prize is open only to democratically elected heads of state who have left office in the past three years. That requirement limits the pool of contenders, eliminating the continent’s strongman leaders, some of whom have held onto power for decades.

Created in 2007 by Sudan-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim, the prize awards $5 million over 10 years and $200,000 annually for life thereafter.

Ibrahim said he respected the decision not to award the prize.

“The standards set for the prize winner are high, and the number of potential candidates each year is small. So it is likely that there will be years when no prize is awarded,” he said. “In the current year, no new candidates emerged.”

Politicians who met the award criteria last year but were not chosen include former South African President Thabo Mbeki, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and ex-Ghanaian President John Kufuor.

Ibrahim said, “Many African countries are making great strides, not just economically but also in terms of their governance.” But he said more needs to be done

He said the foundation would establish a set of fellowships to give young Africans, the next generation of leaders, the chance to work in “key multilateral institutions.”

The previous winners of the Ibrahim prize are former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano, who brought peace and democracy to his country, and Festus Gontebanye Mogae, who as president campaigned to lower the HIV infection rate in Botswana. Former South African President Nelson Mandela was named an honorary laureate of the prize in 2007.


Mo Ibrahim Foundation:

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