No $5 million African leadership award this year, group says


JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Once again, there is no winner this year of a $5 million award for African leadership.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation announced Thursday that no former African leader had met the “very high bar” for one of the world’s richest prizes. The Ibrahim Prize has been awarded just four times in the decade since it was established.

Candidates are African heads of state or government who have left office in the past three years, been democratically elected and served their constitutionally mandated term. They must also show “exceptional leadership.”

The award honors role models on a continent where many leaders have stayed in power for decades.

In an interview with The Associated Press, the prize’s founder, British mobile phone magnate Mo Ibrahim, had tart words for a few current African leaders.

“Look at what’s going on in Burundi. The oppression there is just unacceptable,” he said of the deadly violence since President Pierre Nkurunziza last year decided to seek a third term that critics called unconstitutional.

And in Congo, “what do you say to Kabila?” Ibrahim said. “He’s pushing his country recklessly into a difficult situation.” The opposition fears November elections will be postponed to keep President Joseph Kabila in power beyond his mandate.

Ibrahim, who was born in Sudan, also criticized leaders who crack down on gays instead of focusing on larger issues like infrastructure development and economic reform.

“Hey guys, get a life,” he said. He noted President Uhuru Kenyatta in Kenya, where gay sex is a criminal offense: “Don’t tell people whom they should love.”

Previous Ibrahim prize winners are presidents Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia in 2014, Pedro Pires of Cape Verde in 2011, Festus Mogae of Botswana in 2008 and Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique in 2007. Nelson Mandela was named the inaugural honorary laureate in 2007.