Former Liberian president wins 2017 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former president of Liberia. PHOTO: COURTESY.

Former Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been awarded The 2017 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation on Monday announced that the decision was arrived at following a meeting of its independent Prize Committee who found that confronted with unprecedented and renewed challenges,
Ellen demonstrated exceptional and transformative leadership.

This year’s prize committee was chaired by former Tanzanian prime minister Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim.

The Chair of the Prize Committee Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took the helm of Liberia when it was completely destroyed by civil war, 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.” Said Dr. Ahmed.

Having served two terms as President of Liberia from 2006 to 2017, Ms. Ellen is the fifth recipient of the Ibrahim Prize, which recognizes and celebrates excellence in African leadership.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became President of Liberia on 16 January 2006, after winning the 2005 national elections.

She served her first term 2006-11 and was then successfully re-elected for a second term, serving in office 2012-17.

Since 2006, Liberia was the only country out of 54 to improve in every category and sub-category of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance.

This led Liberia to move up ten places in the Index’s overall ranking during this period.

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.

There were no suitable winners of the 2016 and 2015 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.

Since 2006, the Ibrahim Prize has been awarded four times.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf joins Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia (2014), Pedro Pires of Cabo Verde (2011), Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008) and Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007) as an Ibrahim Prize Laureate. Nelson Mandela was made the inaugural Honorary Laureate in 2007.

The Ibrahim Prize is a US$5 million award (sh.502,845,000) paid over ten years and US$200,000 (sh. 20,113,800) 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.

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.