Leader wins $5m prize for leaving office

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The Independent Online

A $5m prize for good African governance has been awarded to the former President of Cape Verde. Pedro Verona Pires was cited for turning the Atlantic archipelago into a model of democracy, stability and prosperity.

The Mo Ibrahim prize, founded by a Sudanese billionaire, is supposed to be awarded each year to an elected leader who has voluntarily left office, but for the past two years no winner could be found.

In citing Pires, the committee that included Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei of Egypt and former Ibrahim prize winner Festus Mogae of Botswana said the Cape Verde leader, at the end of his second term, dismissed suggestions the constitution be changed to allow him to run again.

Pires said he was "proud" to receive the prize.

"It is recognition of my 50 years of wholesale and exclusive dedication to politics and the causes of independence and democracy," Pires told Portuguese news agency Lusa in Cidade da Praia, Cape Verde's capital, where he was exercising at his local gym.

Pires, 77, retired from political life last month so he could write his memoirs, according to Lusa.