Democracy depends on strong institutions - Obama - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Friday, July 20, 2018

Democracy depends on strong institutions - Obama

Barack Obama
Barack Obama has taken aim at ‘strongman politics’ in his highest-profile speech since leaving office, urging people around the world to respect human rights and other values now under threat in the address marking the 100th anniversary of anti-apartheid leader Mandela’s birth.

Obama’s speech in South Africa countered many of Trump’s policies, rallying people to keep alive the ideas that Mandela worked for including democracy, diversity and tolerance.
Obama spoke to a crowd of more than 10,000 people at a cricket stadium in Johannesburg in the centerpiece event of celebrations marking 100 years since Nelson Mandela’s birth.

Obama opened by calling today’s times ‘strange and uncertain,’ adding that ‘each day’s news cycle is bringing more head-spinning and disturbing headlines.’ These days ‘we see much of the world threatening to return to a more dangerous, more brutal, way of doing business,’ he said.

He targeted politicians pushing ‘politics of fear, resentment, retrenchment,’ saying they are on the move ‘at a pace unimaginable just a few years ago.’

Obama added: ‘I am not being alarmist, I am simply stating the facts. Look around.’ He also spoke up for equality in all forms, saying that ‘I would have thought we had figured that out by now.’

And he warned: ‘Social media, once seen as a mechanism to promote knowledge, has proved to be just as effective promoting hatred and paranoia and conspiracy theories.’

He also spoke up more than once for the ‘free press’ saying it was ‘under attack’ and needed to be defended – in contrast to Trump calling the media ‘the enemy of the people’.
‘Democracy depends on strong institutions,’ he said.

‘It’s about minority rights, and checks and balances and freedom of speech, free press, and the right to protest and petition the government, and an independent judiciary, and everybody having to follow the law.’
And the former president spoke about the ‘utter loss of shame among political leaders when they’re caught in a lie and they just double down and lie some more’.

‘People just make stuff up!’ he said to laughter an applause from the audience.

This is Obama’s first visit to Africa since leaving office in early 2017. He stopped earlier this week in Kenya, where he visited the rural birthplace of his late father.

Obama’s speech highlighted how the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who was imprisoned for 27 years, kept up his campaign against what appeared to be insurmountable odds to end apartheid, South Africa’s harsh system of white minority rule.

Mandela, who was released from prison in 1990 and became South Africa’s first black president four years later, died in 2013, leaving a powerful legacy of reconciliation and diversity along with a resistance to inequality, economic and otherwise.

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