Obama’s warning to Africa on power

US 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

Nobody should be president for life Mr Obama said

He was speaking at the African Unions headquarters in Ethiopias capital Addis Ababa the first time a sitting US president has addressed the body

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

I dont 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 Im the only person who can hold this nation together If thats 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 Im a pretty good president he said I think if I ran I could win But I cant!

President Obama reminded me of a steam engine gathering speed as it approached its destination

He had come to the AU to pay tribute to Africas huge potential the vibrancy of its youth and the impressive rates of economic growth in some countries But he also wanted to deliver another message Diplomacy was dispensed with and he faced the wind

He warned that leaders who overstayed their terms in office were not beyond the law citing Burundi as an example

Yet he neutralised the sting with a bit of self-deprecation Who would want to stay in office for longer? He knows a thing or two about such things

Some in the audience emerged blinking in disbelief that he had talked with such candour A university student I chatted to confided that he was afraid of applauding in case anyone was watching him Such is the level of paranoia and fear of intelligence officials here

I was looking around and I was wondering should I clap? he said The expression on his face gave it away It felt good he said

Mr Obama also called for an end to the cancer of corruption saying it was the key to unlocking Africas economic potential

The money could be used to create jobs and build schools and hospitals Mr Obama said

The rapid economic growth in Africa was changing old stereotypes of a continent hit by war and poverty he said

But unemployment needed to be urgently tackled on a continent whose one billion people will double in a few decades Mr Obama said

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 he added

In echoes of his speech in the Kenyan capital Nairobi Mr Obama condemned the repression of women saying the single best indicator of whether a nation will succeed is how it treats its women

His address to the AU marks the end of his five-day visit to Africa

The trip has focussed heavily on trade and security but he also found time in Kenya to meet relatives of his father including his half-sister Auma

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