George Weah predecessor Ellen Johnson Sirleaf scoops $5m African leadership prize


Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, scoops a prestigious award to recognise her 11 years as Liberian president.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was succeeded by George Weah

Former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has become the first woman to be awarded a $5m (£3.6m) prize for African leadership.

The 79-year-old, who stepped down as president of Liberia in January to hand the reigns over to former footballer George Weah, is only the fifth person to receive the Ibrahim Prize since it was established by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in 2006.

Ms Sirleaf, who was the 24th Liberian president and the continent’s first democratically elected female head of state, was praised by the prize committee for her “exceptional and transformative leadership, in the face of unprecedented and renewed challenges”.

Ms Sirleaf meets then US President Barack Obama at the White House in 2015
Ms Sirleaf meets Barack Obama at the White House in 2015

The panel praised her efforts in guiding Liberia through its recovery from years of civil war, as well as a deadly Ebola outbreak in 2014 and 2015, which killed 5,000 people.

“In very difficult circumstances, she helped guide her nation toward a peaceful and democratic future, paving the way for her successor to follow,” said Mo Ibrahim.

“I am proud to see the first woman Ibrahim laureate, and I hope Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will continue to inspire women in Africa and beyond.”

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The panel said Ms Sirleaf, who received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, had shown “exceptional leadership” during her 11 years in office, making her a worthy recipient of a prize that will see her paid $5m (£3.6m) over the next 10 years.

She will then receive $200,000 (£144,480) annually for the rest of her life, and another $200,000 (£144,480) may also be put towards public interest activities supported by her.

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She joins a prestigious list of previous winners, including Nelson Mandela, who was given an honorary award.

The former South African leader, who served as president from 1994 until 1999, did not fulfil the criteria when he was recognised in 2007 because more than three years had passed since he left office.

Ms Sirleaf meets then US President Barack Obama at the White House in 2015


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