Former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has won the grandiose $5m (£3.6m) Ibrahim prize for African Leadership. Madam Sirleaf, who retired last month, became Africa’s first elected female president in 2006.
She has been highly praised for her work in rebuilding Liberia after the country’s civil war and leading a process of reconciliation. The committee for Ibrahim prize admits that while Ms Sirleaf was accused of tolerating corruption, she had shown exceptional leadership in difficult circumstances.
It notes 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 was constitutionally unqualified to contest for a third term in recent polls, which were won by former football icon George Manneh Weah.
The BBC reports that the Liberian ex-president is the fifth recipient of the prize since 2007, which celebrates African leaders who governed well, raised living standards and then left office.
According to the BBC, the $5m prize is spread over 10 years and is followed by $200,000 a year for life. But it is reportedly not always awarded, as on six occasions, no leader was considered worthy of it.
After hearing the outcome of the Prize Committee’s deliberations, Mr. Mo Ibrahim notes, “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.”