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French President awarded UNESCO peace prize

Posted on Feb 22, 11:09AM | IBNS

New York, Feb 22 : The President of France, Francois Hollande, will receive the United Nations cultural agency's peace prize this year for his "valuable contribution to peace and stability in Africa," it was announced Thursday.

"After analyzing the global situation, it is Africa that held the attention of the Jury with the various threats affecting the continent," said the former President of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano, who chaired the Jury of the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize.

"Having assessed the dangers and the repercussions of the situation on Africa, and on Mali in particular, as well as on the rest of the world, the Jury appreciated the solidarity shown by France to the peoples of Africa," Chissano said after the Jury's meeting in Paris.

The award, created in 1989 by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), honours people, institutions and organizations that have contributed significantly to the promotion, research, preservation or maintenance of peace. It is named for the first president of Cote d'Ivoire.

Northern Mali was occupied by radical Islamists after fighting broke out in January 2012 between Government forces and Tuareg rebels. The conflict uprooted hundreds of thousands of people and prompted the Malian Government to request assistance from France to stop the military advance of extremist groups.

"The Jury condemns the violation of Mali's territorial integrity, the violation of human rights, the taking of hostages and the destruction of the cultural heritage of humanity in Timbuktu," Chissano said. "The Jury therefore decided to award the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize to Francois Hollande, President of the French Republic, for his great contribution to peace and stability in Africa."

Previous winners of the prize include former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva; Nelson Mandela and Frederik W. De Klerk; Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat; King Juan Carlos of Spain; and former United States President Jimmy Carter.

The award ceremony for the prize - which consists of USD 150,000, a gold medal and a diploma - will be held on a date to be announced.