The London-based Mo Ibrahim Foundation has awarded the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership to Cape Verde's former president, Pedro Pires.
Pires was awarded the $5 million prize after stepping down in September at the end of his second five-year term, dismissing suggestions that the constitution be changed to allow him to run for a third term. Appointed the first prime minister of newly independent Cape Verde in 1975, Pires served until 1991 — when he lost the country's first democratically contested elections — before being elected president in 2001 and again in 2006.
According to the World Bank, Cape Verde, an archipelago off the west coast of Africa with a population of 500,000, achieved middle-income country status in 2007 as a result of sound macroeconomic management, responsible use of donor support, and the adoption of effective social development policies. Real per-capita income in the country grew more than 5 percent between 2005 and 2008, well above the average for sub-Saharan Africa and small-island states.
Created in 2007 and worth $5 million over ten years and $200,000 annually for life thereafter, the Ibrahim Prize was not awarded in 2009 and 2010.
"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," said prize committee chair Salim Ahmed Salim. "Under his ten 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."