US President Barack Obama has delivered scathing attack on African leaders who refuse to step down when their terms end.
“Nobody should be president for life, ” Obama said.
“I don’t understand why people want to stay so long, especially when they have got a lot of money,” he added.
Obama’s flank criticism of African leaders comes at a time when a number of African leaders are experiencing growing tendencies by presidents to scrap term limits from their constitutions.
Obama’s address must have struck the hearts of a number of African leaders in his audience including Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and several others who have extended their stay in power.
Obama also called for an end to the “cancer of corruption”, saying it took money away from development .
Obama made the comments in the first ever address by a US leader to the 54-member AU at its headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
The address marked the climax of Obama’s five-day trip to Africa that started with a three-day visit to his father’s homeland Kenya where he also addressed the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi.
Obama also criticised Burundi’s recent elections as illegitimate. The country held polls despite a boycott by the opposition parties which protested the president’s decision to contest for a third term despite the constitutional limit of two terms.
The US leader did not have kind words for his host country Ethiopia either for its infamous record in jailing journalists.
Obama says democracy existed in name but not in substance when journalists were jailed and activists were threatened, he said.
Obama urged African leaders to urgently tackle the challenge of unemployment whose one-billion people will double in a few years to come.
“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.
“Africa will need to generate millions more jobs than it is doing now,” Obama said. “And time is of the essence.”