Juba — Former South African President, Thabo Mbeki is the winner of the 2012 Daily Trust African of the Year award, its Advisory Board announced on Thursday.
The annual accolade, the Advisory Board Chairman said, seeks to recognize and encourage an "ordinary and exemplary African who has made an outstanding contribution."
The ex-South African leader, according to Salim Ahmed Salim, was considered the ideal candidate after the advisory panel looked at his "extraordinary" contribution to the Sudanese crisis. Mbeki says African problems should be resolved by Africans themselves.
"Normally when we as an Advisory Panel choose the African of the Year, we look for an ordinary African doing extraordinary things. But this year in our deliberations we have decided to choose an already prominent African, but someone who in the context of the Sudanese crisis, has made what we consider to be an extraordinary contribution" said Salim Ahmed Salim.
Mbeki, who currently chairs the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan (AUHIP), along with former presidents Pierre Buyoya and Abdulsalam Abubakar, played a key role in brokering a deal between Sudan and South Sudan.
In April this year, the two countries were at the brink of war, before Mbeki and his panel immediately embarked upon a round of comprehensive negotiations, which resulted into the 27 September agreements, between South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his Sudanese counterpart, Omer Al-Bashir.
"For his outstanding leadership of the panel, for his persistent and consistent involvement in the peace process, and for the success of the panel in bringing Sudan and South Sudan back from the brink of war and consolidating a new start in relations, Thabo Mbeki is the 2012 African of the Year," the statement reads in part.
The Daily Trust African of the Year Advisory Board, it added, were particularly impressed with the fact that these accords were of a comprehensive nature, not only focusing 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.
"We believe that this intervention by the African Union in the Sudanese situation must be encouraged. Although a united Sudan could not be maintained, peace between the two neighbours-indeed sisterly states-Sudan and South Sudan, is critical for the African continent," said Salim, a former Secretary General of the defunct Organization of African Union (OAU).
The award, the Board said, not only recognizes Mbeki and the AUHIP for their significant achievement, but also seeks to encourage the Sudanese and South Sudanese people, as well as the African Union, to stay the course on the road to a permanent peace.
Since 2008, the Thabo Mbeki Foundation has been instrumental in supporting efforts aimed at promoting the achievement of Africa's Renaissance through setting the agenda for progressive change throughout the continent.
MBEKI ATTACKS MEDIA
The former South African leader, last month, described as "shameful and embarrassing" African media's alleged failure recognize the key elements in Sudan and South Sudan's Cooperation Agreement.
"This represents a failure by the media to inform its readers, listeners and viewers about a matter vital to Africa's future," Mbeki wrote in a strongly worded article.
Meanwhile, previous winners of this annual award, now in its fifth year, included Denis Mukwege from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria's Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem of Nigeria, Danny Jordaan of South Africa and Niger's former Chief Justice, Salifou Fatima Bazeye.