By the Blouin News Politics staff

Obama warns on Africa leaders refusing to step down

by in Africa.

US President Barack Obama addresses African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa on July 28, 2015. Obama arrived at the African Union headquarters today, to become the first US president to address the 54-member continental bloc, at the end of a tour focused on corruption, rights and security. AFP Photo

US President Barack Obama addresses African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa on July 28, 2015. Obama arrived at the African Union headquarters today, to become the first US president to address the 54-member continental bloc, at the end of a tour focused on corruption, rights and security. AFP Photo

 

U.S. President Barack Obama has ended his visit to Africa by warning the continent will not advance if its leaders refuse to step down when their terms end, writes the BBC.

“Nobody should be president for life,” Obama said. He was speaking at the African Union’s headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, the first time a sitting U.S. president has addressed the body.

Earlier in the trip, Obama visited Kenya, the homeland of his late father.

“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, 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.”

He said 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.”

And he joked about his own chances of another term in office, which he is constitutionally barred from seeking. “I actually think I’m a pretty good president,” he said. “I think if I ran, I could win. But I can’t!”