Related topics

No African leader wins $5M good governance award

October 14, 2013

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Accountability on the African continent did not have a good 48 hours.

On Sunday, the continental body, the African Union, said an international court should delay its trial of Kenya’s president. And on Monday, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation declined to give its annual good governance award — and $5 million prize — to any former African leader, saying none had earned it.

A new measurement released by the foundation on Monday found that 32 countries on the continent have seen a decline in the categories of safety and the rule of law since the year 2000, as violence inside borders rises.

Mo Ibrahim, a British mobile phone magnate who was born in Sudan, said his foundation should not lower its standards in order to present the award every year and that young Africans are taking leadership more seriously now.

“Africa is changing, and the young African generation is different,” he said. “It is a better educated people, better informed people. ... The sense of duty, the whole political atmosphere around the issue of leadership is changing.”

Still, some of the more than 50 countries in Africa are still ruled by men who stay in office for decades. Others are accused of backing deadly wars or committing war crimes.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto both face International Criminal Court charges for allegedly helping to orchestrate 2007-08 post-election violence. Kenyatta is due in The Hague, Netherlands-based ICC next month, but there are growing indications that he will not go.

In a summit of African leaders on Sunday, the African Union said it would petition the U.N. Security Council to have Kenyatta’s case be deferred.

“Unanimously, the council and summit recognized that a sitting head of state — democratically elected and with a clear mandate from the Kenyan people — must govern. That is what Kenyans expect. That is what Africa expects,” Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohammed told a news conference Monday.

Asked by reporters if Kenyatta will travel to The Hague next month if the Security Council does not rule in Kenya’s favor, Mohammed said she could not predict the future.

The Mo Ibrahim prize has been awarded three times in its seven year history — to Cape Verde President Pedro Verona Pires in 2011, Festus Mogae of Botswana in 2008, and Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique in 2007.

John Githongo — a former Kenyan government adviser who exposed hundreds of millions of dollars in government corruption — said he is not surprised that this is the second straight year no winner was named. Githongo said some in Kenya’s leadership hoped the African Union meeting would result in a mass pull-out from the ICC treaty, but that did not happen.

“But it does show how shy the leadership is on the continent when it comes to accountability. At the same time it shows Kenya’s political muscle,” Githongo said.

The ICC has only prosecuted Africans, something that leaders in Africa are becoming more critical of. Ibrahim said while the ICC must rectify that problem, the continent still needs accountability mechanisms to prosecute mass rapes and genocide.

“There have been some horrible crimes committed in Africa and those victims need justice, said Ibrahim, who advocates a “serious dialogue” between the ICC and the African Union.

His foundation’s award is meant to go to an African leader who excels in office and steps down on schedule.

Update hourly