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No $5 million Mo Ibrahim prize: no honest African leaders?

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Signs of progress, too

To be sure, Africa in 2009 is not the famine-ridden, dictator-ruled continent of yesteryear. Today there are far fewer conflicts in Africa than a decade ago, and far more Africans today have the chance to choose their leaders among a variety of credible parties. Even Ibrahim's own foundation has taken pains this year to point out the top countries in Africa that have shown the strongest signs of progress both in terms of democratic governance and the rule of law – with Southern Africa leading the way, with four of the top 10 performers.

"At a time when we are seeing overall progress in Africa, despite worrying setbacks in some countries, it is vital that African stakeholders and institutions come together to look for a way forward on the major challenges facing the African continent," Ibrahim said in a statement in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

In an earlier interview with, a news website focusing on African affairs, Ibrahim told editors that some 26 of Africa's 53 countries had made progress in governance in the past year. His index measures 84 factors, including rule of law, human rights, and economic opportunity.

"The index doesn't say Africa is bad," Ibrahim says, referring to a report by his foundation that rates African nations in terms of governance. "The index shows countries that are doing well; it shows countries which are doing badly... . It is a mirror. Some of us are good-looking; we look beautiful in the mirror. Some of us are ugly and are going to look ugly because the mirror will not lie. Don't blame the mirror!"

See the index here.

Leaders who won't let go

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