Analysis: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf scores another first: Wins Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership 2017.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who until last month, was the first and only elected female Head of State in Africa, has once again scored another first becoming the first female awardee of the much-talked about Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership for the year 2017.

BY: Regina Jane Jere

The venerated (US) $5 million Prize is awarded to 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.

In a continent fraught with long-term, overstaying presidents and routine leadership quests to change constitutions to extend presidential term limits, it has meant that there have been times this has impacted the honouring of the Prize. For four times since its launch in 2006 the Mo Ibrahim Foundation had failed to find a winner, in 2009, 2010, 2015, and 2016 – last awarding the Prize to former Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba back in 2014.

The Ibrahim Prize recognises and celebrates excellence in African leadership, by distinguishing 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.

Explaining why they failed to find a winner last year the chairman of the Prize Committee Dr Salim Ahmed Salim stated then: “ I emphasise each year, a very high bar was deliberately set when the Prize was launched… We recognise and applaud the important contributions that many African leaders have made to change their countries for the better. But the Prize is intended to highlight and celebrate truly exceptional leadership, which is uncommon by its very definition.”


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