Obama addresses African Union in Addis Ababa

Barack Obama becomes first sitting US president to visit Ethiopia in last stop of his tour of Africa

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US President Barack Obama speaking at African Union summit in Addis Ababa

US President Barack Obama has delivered an unprecedented speech in the African Union in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa on the last day of his trip to East Africa.

Obama flew to Ethiopia after a two-day visit to Kenya in which he discussed trade and security but also called for greater human rights and warned of the dangers of corruption.

After talking with Ethiopia's PM Hailemariam Desalegn, Obama praised Ethiopia’s efforts to contain the threat posed by Al Qaeda affiliate Al Shabab. On Monday, the US president said Ethiopia is an "outstanding partner" in facing the insurgents.

Obama also called on Hailemariam to better address Ethiopia's record on human rights and good governance. "I don't bite my tongue too much when it comes to these issues," he said at a joint press conference in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Obama also said Africa needed to create more jobs in order to avoid instability and disorder, adding that the United States offered "real economic partnerships" to Africa.

"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," Obama said, according to a text of his speech to the African Union.

While calling African leaders to adhere to term limits during his African Union speech, Obama said that he could win a third term in the US, but can’t because he’s abiding by the law.

“I actually think I’m a pretty good president. I think if I ran, I could win. But I can’t,” Obama said in Ethiopia on Tuesday. “There’s a lot that I’d like to do to keep America moving, but the law’s the law.”

Obama specifically noted recent questionable elections in Burundi, where President Pierre Nkurunziza won a third term in a vote that was boycotted by the opposition.

“I’m looking forward to life after being president,” Obama said. “I won’t have such a big security detail all the time. It means I can go take a walk, I can spend time with my family, I can find other ways to serve. I can visit Africa more often.”

Obama attended the Global Entrepreneurship Summit on Saturday, and said that African entrepreneurs could assist in countering violent ideologies and promoting global growth by creating opportunities in Africa.

Obama further argued that governments must help to ensure the rule of law is upheld and directly tackle corruption.

"Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. People are being lifted out of poverty, incomes are up, the middle class is growing, and young people like you are harnessing technology to change the way Africa is doing businesses”

“This continent needs to be a future hub of global growth, not just African growth," Obama stated in the summit, a US-sponsored initiative to improve business relations with Africa.

TRTWorld and agencies