As the first sitting U.S. president to address the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, President Barack Obama (pictured) warned members that they are holding the continent back when they refuse to respect presidential term limits, reports the BBC.
Keep Up With Face2Face Africa On Facebook!
On the final day of his five-day trip in Africa, President Obama boldly stepped in to controversial waters when he said, “I don’t understand why people want to stay so long [as president], especially when they have got a lot of money.”
Not mincing words, President Obama specifically called out the recent “re-election” of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza who successfully added his name to the infamous list of African dictators who have extended their constitution’s term limits in time for elections.
President Obama quipped, “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.”
Driving his point home even further, President Obama criticized African leaders who abuse their power further by oppressing the people, “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.”
Attempting to diffuse a reportedly tense atmosphere, President Obama joked, “I actually think I’m a pretty good president,” he said. “I think if I ran, I could win…but I can’t!”
One university student, who admitted that he was afraid to be seen agreeing with the President, said, “I was looking around and I was wondering, Should I clap?” It felt good, he added.
But term limits were just the tip of the iceberg for President Obama.
He also insisted that “the cancer of corruption” was eating away at the creation of much-needed jobs, schools, and hospitals on the continent.
He then spoke to the challenge of youth unemployment, adding, “We need only look to the Middle East and North Africa to see that large numbers of young people with no jobs and stifled voices can fuel instability and disorder.”
Watch President Obama’s full African Union speech here: