The 2017 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership has been awarded to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation announced today following a meeting of its independent Prize Committee.
Mrs Sirleaf, who stepped down last month, became Africa’s first elected female president in 2006.
Praised for her work rebuilding the nation after civil war and leading a process of reconciliation Mrs Sirleaf is the fifth recipient of the Ibrahim Prize, which recognises and celebrates excellence in African leadership.
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.
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 prize committee admitted that while Ms Sirleaf was accused of tolerating corruption, she had shown exceptional leadership in difficult circumstances.
It added that Liberia was the only country out of 54 to improve in every category and sub-category of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance.
Mrs Sirleaf served two terms as president, but could not run again in recent polls, which were won by former footballer George Weah.
The Ibrahim 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.
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.