Former Liberian President wins $5 million award

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JOHANNESBURG,  February 12 (ANA) – Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Africa’s first elected female head of state, has won a $5 million Mo Ibrahim award, designed to improve the quality of African political leadership, Reuters reported on Monday.

Johnson Sirleaf, who is the fifth person to win the 10-year-old award, stepped down from office last month, handing over leadership of the West African country to former international football star George Weah.

The prestigious award, founded by Sudanese telecoms tycoon Mo Ibrahim, has not been awarded on several occasions due to what was perceived by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation as no suitable candidate.

However, the foundation praised Africa’s first-ever female leader for her exceptional and transformative leadership in helping steer Liberia’s recovery from many years of civil war.

“During her twelve years in office, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf laid the foundations on which Liberia can now build,” the foundation said.

However, she has been accused by critics of not doing enough to solve crippling unemployment and poverty and new incumbent Weah was partially voted in on campaign promises to resolve these issues.

Liberia, which was founded by freed American slaves, has survived two civil wars marked by brutality and the use of child soldiers, as well as years of bloodshed and civil unrest

Candidates for the award have to be democratically elected African heads of state or government who have left office during the previous three years at the end of their mandated terms.

The prize is $5 million paid out over ten years, with another $200,000 annually throughout the winner’s lifetime.

– African News Agency (ANA)