News The African Way

Obama To African Leaders: Stop Overstaying In Office

Kaduna (Nigeria) – US President, Barack Obama has warned his African colleagues against refusing to step down after the expiration of their term in office, saying such refusal could deter development on the continent.

Obama gave the warning at the African Union’s headquarters, Addis Ababa. at the end of his two East African nation (Kenya and Ethiopia).

This is the first time a sitting US president has addressed the 54 member body of the union.

He said the continent would not advance when leaders overstayed their term in office, stating that nobody is above the law, or should be president for life.

He tasked the AU to ensure leaders respect their constitutions and step down when they are due; making reference to Burundi, whose president, Pierre Nkurunziza has controversially been re-elected for a third term.

Obama further added that, “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.”

The U.S President also pointed out that it is time for the world to change its approach to Africa, saying that he is a proud American and also a son of an African.

“A half century into this independence era, it is long past time to put aside old stereotypes of an African forever mired in poverty and conflict. The world must recognize Africa’s extraordinary progress.” He said.

Obama explained to the gathering his policy on renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act aimed at boosting trade and U.S. initiatives on food security, increasing access to electricity and supporting African entrepreneurs.

The U.S President had on Friday 24th July, 2015 embarked on a five day visit to Africa, starting with his father’s homeland Kenya, where he was received with much fanfare and adoration.

While in Nairobi, he also co-hosted the sixth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit with Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta. They held bilateral talks on business development, security, human rights and LGBT equality.

In Kenya, Obama also said nothing will unlock Africa’s economic potential than tackling “the cancer of corruption.”

“In Africa, corruption drains billions of dollars from economies – money that could be used to create jobs and to build hospitals and schools. And when someone has to pay a bribe just to start a business or go to school or to get an official to do their job – that’s not “the African way” – it undermines the dignity of the people you represent.” he said.

Obama arrived Ethiopia on Monday morning, 26th July, 2015 at the National Palace in Addis Ababa, where he was received by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

In Ethiopia, Obama met with African leaders including the AU chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, to discuss on regional terrorism and South Sudan’s civil war.

Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome and the Prime Minister expressed continued cooperation between their countries on trade and economic partnership, counter-terrorism and intelligence, and democratisation.

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