Obama to the African Union: "Nobody should be president for life.."
US President Barack Obama concluded his visit to Africa today after speaking at the African Union's headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. This was the first time a sitting US president addressed the AU.
President Obama asserted that Africa would not advance if its leaders refuse to step down when their terms end:
"Nobody should be president for life," President Obama noted. The President included a visit to Kenya, the homeland of his late father, where he delivered several key speeches ,
Obama told the African Union attendees that he loved his job as President of the United States, so much so that he would love to serve another term, yet he still had to comply with the Constitution of the United States by adhereing to two terms only.
"I don't understand why people want to stay so long, especially when they have got a lot of money," he told the 54-member AU, an apparent criticism of African leaders who have done just that.
Calling on the AU to ensure leaders respect their constitutions and step down when their term ends, Mr Obama specifically mentioned Burundi, whose president Pierre Nkurunziza has controversially been re-elected for a third term.
"Sometimes you will hear leaders say 'I'm the only person who can hold this nation together.' If that's true, then that leader has failed to truly build their nation." There are several African leaders who have certainly earned the term "dictator." The President did not mention them, yet we all know who they are. These leaders tend to suppress opposition and usually head countries with severe human rights infractions. To name but a few - President Yoweri Museveni, who despite almost 30 years in office as the President of Uganda, is seeking yet another term and Robert Mugabe, the 91 year old President of Zimbabwe who has held that office since 1987.
When Obama assured that democracy was about more than just holding elections: "When journalists are put behind bars for doing their jobs or activists are threatened as governments crackdown on civil society then you may have democracy in name, but not in substance, " he was clearly speaking to the Museveni Mugabe mold.
Analysis: Karen Allen, BBC News, Addis Ababa gives a fine analysis which can be read HERE.
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