The former president of Cape Verde, Pedro Pires, has been awarded an African leadership prize of U.S. $5 million for transforming his country "into a model of democracy, stability and increased prosperity."
Pires is the recipient of the 2011 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, established by the Sudanese business pioneer, Mo Ibrahim. The award is paid over 10 years, and is accompanied by an additional annual payment of U.S. $200,000 for life.
Salim Ahmed Salim, former secretary-general of the Organization of African Unity and chairman of the prize committee, said Cape Verde had won international recognition for its record on human rights and good governance. It was also the second African country to improve its position and rise above the United Nations category of the world's least developed countries.
Salim said Pires enhanced his credentials when he stepped down at the end of his second term. "Dismissing outright suggestions that the constitution could be altered to allow him to stand again, he said: 'This is a simple matter of faithfulness to the documents that guide a state of law.' Throughout his long career President Pires has been dedicated to the service of his people, including those in the diaspora, while retaining his humility and personal integrity."
The prize is open to democratically-elected former heads of government who have observed term limits and left office within the last three years.
The prize has been awarded only twice: to Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique in 2007 and Festus Mogae of Botswana in 2008. In 2009 and 2010 the prize committee said it could not find a worthy recipient among Africa's recently-retired leaders.