H.E. Joaquim Alberto Chissano

Former President of Mozambique; 1997 Africa Prize Laureate

President Chissano is one of Africa's most outstanding and successful leaders, and the winner of the 1997 Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger. He is a highly regarded champion for peace, reconciliation and reconstruction.

One of the original founders of Frelimo in 1962, President Chissano was a freedom fighter for the liberation of his country from Portuguese colonial rule. When Mozambique finally gained independence in 1975, President Chissano took office as the interim prime minister.

He became the nation's President in 1986, following the death of his predecessor, Samora Machel. President Chissano made far-reaching reforms to Mozambique's multi-party democracy which, in 1992, helped end the civil war that had ravaged Mozambique since independence. President Chissano won multi-party elections in 1994 and 1999, eventually stepping down at the end of his second term, leading to a peaceful, democratic transition of leadership - an example to all of Africa.

With President Chissano's leadership, Mozambique, one of the most impoverished countries in the world, has made enormous progress in ensuring the fulfillment of its citizens' basic human needs. Major surveys in 1997 and 2003 showed a reduction in absolute poverty from 69 percent to 54 percent, a doubling of the percentage of people within an hour of a food market, a 40 percent increase in the number of people with access to clean water, and a 23 percent increase in women's literacy.

Among the many positions held by President Chissano following his Presidency, he was Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Chairperson of the African Union. After retiring from office, he was appointed Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the 2005 Summit to Review the Implementation of the Millennium Declaration, as well as Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General to Guinea-Bissau, Democratic Republic of Congo and to the effected areas by the LRA in Uganda. As of June 2009, he has served as SADC Special Envoy for the political conflict in Madagascar.

Some of President Chissano's most notable awards over the years include the The Hunger Project (1997), The Kellog Foundation Award (2004), The Together For Peace, The Chatham House (2006) and the inaugural Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership (2007).

Happily married with four children, Joaquim Chissano fluently speaks five languages: Portuguese, English, French, Swahili and Changana, and is able to communicate in an additional three: Spanish, Italian and Russian.