A foundation that gives a $5 million prize for good governance in Africa says it will not honor anyone this year. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation said in a statement Monday that its prize committee considered some “credible candidates,” but ultimately could not select a winner.
Billionaire Sudanese businessman Mo Ibrahim says that the decision should not be seen as a sign of disrespect for those African leaders considered for this year’s prize, including former South African President Thabo Mbeki and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“We have full respect to the people you mentioned. Some of those people are personal friends. There is no issue of disrespect here.”
Committee members did not give a reason for their decision, citing the confidentiality of their discussions. Ibrahim founded the world’s largest individual award as a way to encourage good governance on a continent often plagued by bad governance and corruption.
“This year, the prize committee has considered some credible candidates. However, after in-depth review, the prize committee could not select a winner.
Ibrahim said he made clear when he set up the prize two years ago that there may be years when there would be no winner.
The prize is awarded to a democratically elected former leader of a sub-Saharan African country who served his constitutional term and left office in the past three years.
This year, the Ibrahim committee considered 11 African leaders who had left office between 2006 and 2008. Last year, the prize went to former Botswana President Festus Mogae, who was honoured for steering his country along a stable, prosperous path and for leading the fight against AIDS.
Former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano won in 2007 for leading his country to peace and democracy after years of civil war.
Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, a Ghanaian, chairs the prize committee.
The winner receives $5 million over 10 years and then $200,000 a year for life, with another possible $200,000 a year for 10 years for “good causes” that he supports.