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Obama warns against rise of 'strongman politics' in speech in veiled attack on Trump

Obama, 56, has made an art of criticising the current President's values without explicitly naming Trump, and he peppered his speech with warnings against protectionism and racial nationalism, CNN reported.


PTI 17 Jul 2018, 04:07 PM United States
  • "It is a plain fact that racial discrimination still exists in both the United States and South Africa," Obama, who became the first black American president in 2009, said. (Image Credit: Twitter)

Former US President Barack Obama today made a passionate defense of democracy and warned against the rise of "strongman politics" in a speech marking the 100th birth anniversary of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, in a veiled attack on his successor Donald Trump.

Obama's remarks come a day after Trump's much-criticised news conference in Helsinki, Finland, in which the US leader sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin over his own country's intelligence agencies on whether Russia interfered in the US elections in 2016.

"The politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment began to appear. And that kind of politics is now on the move. It's on the move at a pace that would have seemed unimaginable just a few years ago," he told the crowd of around 15,000 people in Johannesburg to honour Mandela ahead of the 100th anniversary of his birth.

In one of his highest-profile appearances and his first return to Africa since he left office in 2017, Obama criticised populist movements toward authoritarianism around the world and made a plea to his audience to preserve democratic freedoms as the key to peace.

"I am not being alarmist, I'm simply stating the facts. Look around — strongman politics are ascendant, suddenly, whereby elections and some pretense of democracy are (maintaining) the form of it, where those in powers seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning," Obama said.

Obama, 56, has made an art of criticising the current President's values without explicitly naming Trump, and he peppered his speech with warnings against protectionism and racial nationalism, CNN reported.

He also warned that the press was under attack, that censorship and state control of media is on the rise and that social media was being used to promote hate, propaganda and conspiracy theories.

"So, on Madiba's 100 birthday, we now stand at a crossroads," he said, using a clan name of affection for Mandela.

"It is a plain fact that racial discrimination still exists in both the United States and South Africa," Obama, who became the first black American president in 2009, said.

Mandela died in 2013 at the age of 95. He helped South Africa break the practice of racial segregation and do away with white minority rule.

Imprisoned for nearly three decades for his fight against racial segregation, Mandela was freed in 1990 and quickly set about working to unite the nation through forgiveness and reconciliation, becoming South Africa's first black president.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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