Africa

Former Liberia President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wins $5million Mo Ibrahim prize

Former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has won the 2017 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

The Foundation made the annoucement on Monday after a meeting of its independent Prize Committee.

Sirleaf, who served two terms as Liberia’s President from 2006 to 2017, is the fifth recipient of the Ibrahim Prize, which recognises and celebrates excellence in African leadership.

Previous winners are:

  • Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia (2014)
  • Pedro Pires of Cabo Verde (2011)
  • Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008)
  • Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007)
  • Nelson Mandela was made the inaugural Honorary Laureate in 2007.

In its citation, the Prize Committee praised her exceptional and transformative leadership, in the face of unprecedented and renewed challenges, to lead Liberia’s recovery following many years of devastating civil war.

The Ibrahim Prize aims to distinguish leaders who, during their time in office, have developed their countries, strengthened democracy and human rights for the shared benefit of their people, and advanced sustainable development.

The Prize is a US$5 million award paid over ten years and US$200,000 annually for life thereafter. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation will consider granting a further US$200,000 per year for ten years towards public interest activities and good causes espoused by the Ibrahim Laureate.

Announcing the decision, Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, Chair of the Prize Committee, said: “Ellen Johnson 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. 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. Nevertheless, during her twelve years in office, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf laid the foundations on which Liberia can now build.

Reacting to the Prize Committee’s announcement, Mo Ibrahim said: “I’m delighted that the Prize Committee has decided to make Ellen Johnson Sirleaf an Ibrahim Prize Laureate. In very difficult circumstances, she helped guide her nation towards a peaceful and democratic future, paving the way for her successor to follow. I am proud to see the first woman Ibrahim Laureate, and I hope Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will continue to inspire women in Africa and beyond.

The candidates for the Ibrahim Prize are all former African executive heads of state or government who have left office during the last three calendar years, having been democratically elected and served their constitutionally mandated term.

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