Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been awarded the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. The Prize is awarded by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to recognize and celebrate excellence in African leadership. The award goes to deserving recipients who have, during their time in office, developed their countries, strengthened democracy and human rights for the shared benefit of their people, and advanced sustainable development. An independent seven-person Prize Committee composed of eminent African and international figures makes the final decision. The recipient receives a US$5 million initial payment, spread over ten years ($500,000 annually) and $200,000 yearly for life thereafter, the purpose of which is to enable them to continue in other public roles on the continent.
Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, Chair of the Prize Committee, explains why Sirleaf, who served two presidential terms from 2006-2017, was chosen as the 2018 recipient. “Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took the helm of Liberia when it was completely destroyed by civil war and led a process of reconciliation that focused on building a nation and its democratic institutions,” says Salim. “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.”
Sirleaf is the first woman to receive the award. In a statement, President Sirleaf said, “As the first woman to receive the award, it is my hope that women and girls across Africa will be inspired to reach for their true potential, to navigate the challenges, break through barriers, and to pursue their dreams. Where there is a first, there comes a second, and a third, and a fourth.”
Sirleaf is the 5th recipient of the award, following Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007), Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008), Pedro Pires of Cape Verde (2011), and Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia (2014).
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