Botswana’s former President Festus Mogae has been appointed new chair of the committee that decides winners of the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, the Foundation announced.
The former President, who was until August 2018 the Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee in South Sudan peace deal, succeeds Salim Ahmed Salim, who served as Chair from 2011-2019 on the Committee that awards winners of a prize often described as the African Nobel Prize.
The Committee often works independently of Mo Ibrahim Foundation, to review all eligible candidates for the Ibrahim Prize that recognises exceptional political leadership in Africa. It was launched in 2006, but was not awarded in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016 as the committee did not find a leader who met all the criteria for the prize.
Mozambique's Joaquim Chissano was the inaugural winner in 2007, with South Africa’s Nelson Mandela given an honorary award in the same year. Other leaders awarded the prize are former presidents Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008), Pedro Pires of Cape Verde (2011), Hifikipunye Pohamba of Namibia (2014) and Ellen Sirleaf Johnson of Liberia (2017).
Eligible candidates are often those who led through their terms and handed over power peacefully, respecting the constitutional term limits. Several years have passed now since the last retired leader won it.
“I am honoured to accept this role and I look forward to working with my fellow committee members,” Mr Mogae said in a statement on Thursday.
“We have been privileged to be guided in our work by Salim Ahmed Salim and Kofi Annan, who themselves exemplify so many of the qualities that the Ibrahim Prize celebrates.
“I congratulate Festus Mogae on his appointment”, Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese-British businessman who founded the Foundation, said.
“On behalf of the Foundation, I would like to express my deep gratitude to Salim Ahmed Salim for his wise counsel over the last decade, helping the Foundation to find three very worthy Ibrahim Laureates”.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation focuses on the critical governance and leadership for Africa and annually publishes an index that lists countries in these categories.
The Ibrahim Prize, on the other hand, celebrates excellence in African leadership.
It is awarded to a former executive head of state or government by an independent Prize Committee composed of eminent figures.