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Cape Verde's Pires wins African governance award
by Ed Cropley
Reuters Translate This Article
10 October 2011
BJOHANNESBURG, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Former Cape Verde president Pedro Verona Pires won the $5 million Mo Ibrahim award for African leadership on Monday for shepherding his tiny Atlantic Ocean island state from autocracy to prosperous democracy.
Organisers of the award, established in 2006 by Sudanese telecoms tycoon Mo Ibrahim to improve the quality of African governments, also praised Pires for his decision this year not to run for office again after the expiry of his second term.
'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 dignity,' the award committee said in a statement.
Previous winners of the prize, which can only be awarded to an African head of state who has peacefully left office, include Mozambique's Joaquim Chissano and Botswana's Festus Mogae.
There were no winners in 2009 and 2010 because of a lack of suitable candidates, organisers said.
Pires, now 77, was prominent in Cape Verde's struggle for independence from Portugal, and became prime minister in 1975, a position that allowed him to pave the way towards the first democratic elections in 1991.
Speaking from his home in the Cape Verdean capital Praia, Pires told Reuters: 'I accept this award for the 50 years of struggle for independence, democracy and development in Cape Verde, but also for the affirmation of the African and Africa.'
Cape Verde, which has a population of 500,000, also fared well in the 'Ibrahim Index' of African governance released alongside the leadership award.
The five best-ranked countries were Mauritius, Cape Verde, Botswana, Seychelles and South Africa, while the bottom five were Somalia, Chad, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic.
Significant gainers were Liberia and Sierra Leone, climbing to 36th and 30th spots respectively as both West African states continued to distance themselves from civil wars that ended less than a decade ago.
The biggest loser was in the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar, which slipped to 33rd, reflecting the political and economic upheaval that has persisted since a 2009 coup.
Africa's two areas of poorest progress were 'Safety and the rule of law' and 'Participation and human rights'.
Just 14 countries moved up the scale in the latter category—a finding Ibrahim said meant Africa would remain fertile ground for the spread of north Africa-style uprisings.
'That reversal in the rights of citizens must be stopped,' he told a news conference. 'If you don't believe me, just look at (Cairo's) Tahrir Square.'
(Additional reporting by Alvaro Andrade in Praia; Editing by Giles Elgood and Andrew Heavens)
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Global Good News comment:
Global Good News is not promoting elections and democracy as being the ideal form of government. However, it it is happy to see former President Pire recognized for his leadership abilities and dedication to improving the quality of life in his country. Global Good News hopes the country will always have ideal leadership and prosperity.
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