$5M African Leadership Prize Goes to ... Nobody

Committee passes over all three candidates, doesn't award $5M to any
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2009 2:43 PM CDT
Mo Ibrahim speaks at a press conference in London, Monday, Oct. 19, 2009. It was announced that there is no winner for the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership this year.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
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(Newser) – Nobody has won this year's $5 million Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, the committee responsible for picking a winner announced today. That’s an enormous snub to the people eligible for the award, who include former heads of state Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, and John Kufuor of Ghana. The committee professed to have “full respect” for them but said, without elaborating, that it hadn’t been able to pick a winner, the AP reports.

Only democratically elected leaders who’ve left office recently are eligible, making candidates scarce. “I would imagine that they are thinking about raising the bar and having raised the bar they have found that no one could get over” it, said one professor. He contends that it should have been awarded anyway, but others disagree. “It hasn’t been a great year for democracy in Africa,” said a Human Rights Watch counselor. “Maybe that’s what they were tying to say.”