Friday, October 23, 2015

Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe Wins Confucius Peace Prize

The president of Zimbabwe has won this year's Confucius Peace Prize amid controversies surrounding the occasion.
Robert Mugabe
The founder of the Confucius Peace Prize, a would-be Chinese rival to the Nobel, on Thursday defended the presentation of this year’s award to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has often been accused of rights abuses.
Qiao Damo, founder of the little-known China International Peace Studies Centre, which runs the accolade, told AFP that Mugabe had been recognised for his “outstanding contributions” to world peace.
The nonagerian African leader beat nine other finalists, including Bill Gates, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, he added.
“If he hadn’t come to power in 1980, if he hadn’t played a role, how much talent would have been wasted!” said Qiao.
The Confucius prize emerged in 2010 as a Chinese response to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel award, which infuriated Beijing.
Mugabe — who has had a close relationship with Beijing for decades — joins an eclectic roster of past winners, which includes Vladimir Putin and Fidel Castro as well as more mainstream figures such as Kofi Annan.
In a statement announcing the award in September, the committee praised Mugabe for being “committed to building the country’s political and economic order, for the benefit of the Zimbabwean people”, and for his “strong support of Pan-Africanism and African independence”.
It will be recalled that human rights groups and opposition politicians have accused Mugabe of overseeing the crippling of his country’s economy and brutal crackdowns, but the prize organisers have dismissed their concerns.

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