The veteran leader who retired as president in September after serving two terms will receive the prize at a ceremony in Tunis, Tunisia on 12 November 2011. Established to recognise and celebrate excellence in African leadership, the Ibrahim
Prize is an annual US$5 million award paid over 10 years and US$200,000 annually for life thereafter. The foundation will consider granting a further US$200,000 per year for 10 years towards public interest activities and good causes espoused by the laureate. Announcing the 2011 Ibrahim Laureate, Salim Ahmed Salim, the chair of the Prize Committee, said: "The Prize Committee has been greatly impressed by president Pedro Pires's vision in transforming Cape Verde into a model of democracy, stability and increased prosperity. Under his 10 years as president, the nation became only the second African country to graduate from the United Nation's Least Developed.
Category and has won international recognition for its record on human rights and good governance." Salim praised Pires's commitment to democracy and governance. "Pires's democratic credentials were further enhanced when he announced he was stepping down at the end of his second term. Dismissing outright suggestions that the constitution could be altered to allow him to stand again. This is a simple matter of faithfulness to the documents that guide a state of law.
The Ibrahim Prize was established by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which is marking its fifth anniversary this year.The prize committee assesses democratically elected former executive heads of state or government from sub-Saharan African countries who have served their term in office within the limits set by their country's constitution and have left office within the last three years. Meanwhile, Pires, 77, told the BBC he was at the gym when he heard that he had won the prize. "I want to invest the money to publish a book about the story and the struggle for the independence of Cape Verde," he said.
"I have no thought of using the money to invest in business or anything like that." Despite winning the prize, Pires said he had no advice for other leaders on the continent."I don't like to give lessons. I think each leader has his own challenges," he said. "We have to believe in African people and allow them to decide their own fate." Prize committee head, Salim Ahmed Salim praised his "humility" and "personal integrity" in refusing calls to change the constitution.
Cape Verde - an Atlantic archipelago of 10 islands - has experienced significant economic growth in recent years, partly because of a boom in tourism. It is now classed by the United Nations as a middle-income country. But unemployment and poverty are still high, forcing many people to emigrate.Some 700,000 Cape Verdeans live abroad, more than the 500,000 at home, official statistics show. (BBC and Wikipedia) Pires follows Joaquim Chissano (2007) and Festus Mogae, (2008) as Ibrahim laureates. Nelson Mandela was made the honorary inaugural laureate in 2007. In 2009 and 2010 the prize committee, after in-depth review, did not select a winner.
The current prize committee is chaired by Salim, former Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity, Martti Ahtisaari, former president of Finland and Nobel laureate; Aicha Bah Diallo, former minister of Education in Guinea and director of Basic Education at UNESCO; Mohamed ElBaradei, former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency and Nobel laureate; GraŤa Machel, Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, and former Minister of Education and Culture in Mozambique; Mogae, former president of Botswana and chairperson of the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa; and Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
(Mo Ibrahim Foundation, BBC and Mmegi)