In a dramatic illustration of democracy in action, Barack Obama on Tuesday told the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that he would love to remain president for a third term, but is unfortunately barred by the U.S. Constitution, according to CNN.
The president gently urged the Ethiopian government towards democracy after a long era of rule by monarchy and autocracy, twice calling the government of Ethiopia “democratically elected.”
“I think if I ran again I could win. But I can’t!” Obama said.
Obama’s quip came during a speech to the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the first address to the group by a U.S. president.
The loudest applause line came when Obama said he didn’t understand the motivation behind remaining in power through force — even when leaders have “got a lot of money.”
Two months ago, an election handed every seat in Parliament to the governing party and its allies, according to The New York Times. Human rights groups wanted Obama to denounce what they called “a sham election.”
He is the first sitting U.S. president to visit Ethiopia, a fast-growing economy, which was once defined by poverty and famine.
From The New York Times:
Although human rights groups had called on Mr. Obama to use his visit to press for change, the president took a mild tone in his public remarks. He gently urged the Ethiopian government to make room for opposition, while stressing his respect for the country and its challenges in emerging from a long era of monarchy and autocracy.
“We are very mindful of Ethiopia’s history, the hardships that this country has gone through,” Mr. Obama said at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. “It has been relatively recently in which the Constitution that was formed, and elections put forward a democratically elected government.” He added that “there is still more work to do, and I think the prime minister is the first to acknowledge that there is more work to do.”
The elections in May were condemned by human rights groups as a sham. The government made it hard for opposition candidates to register, raise money and mobilize supporters, according to watchdog groups. Peaceful protesters were denied permits, harassed and in some cases arrested. News organizations were shut down and reporters harassed, threatened or arrested.
Between addressing democracy in Ethiopia and stating that he would win a third election in the U.S., it looks like Obama isn’t pulling any punches in his last days in office. What do you think? Sound off below…