Dakar — Former South African president Thabo Mbeki has been named "African of the Year" for his "persistent and consistent" efforts to avert war between Sudan and South Sudan.
Naming Mbeki as winner of the award, former Tanzanian prime minister and Organisation of African Unity head Salim A. Salim said the former president had displayed "outstanding leadership" of the African Union's High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan (AUHIP).
The award, sponsored by the Daily Trust newspaper of Abuja, Nigeria, was announced at the fifth annual meeting of the African Media Leaders Forum in Dakar on Thursday.
Salim said the advisory board which chose Mbeki normally gave it to "an ordinary African doing extraordinary things". But Mbeki's role had been "extraordinary".
The AU panel had succeeded "in bringing Sudan and South Sudan back from the brink of war and consolidating a new start in relations."
Citing the nine agreements between the two countries which were signed in September, Salim said the advisory board was "particularly impressed with the fact that these accords were of a comprehensive nature, not only focussing on the cessation of hostilities but also on restarting southern oil exports through the North, reviving cross-border trade, and overall forging a new start in relations."