Obama to close four-day visit with address African Union | News | DW | 28.07.2015
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Obama to close four-day visit with address African Union

During the final day of his visit to Africa, US President Barack Obama is set to deliver a message to the continent with a speech at the African Union (AU). He is later scheduled to meet with civil society delegates.

Obama's address to the 54-member AU on Tuesday will be held at the Union's Chinese-built headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Closing his four-day visit to eastern Africa, the US president is expected to strive to rejuvenate Washington's economic ties with the region. Also on the agenda will be strategic concerns regarding efforts to fight the al Qaeda affiliated al Shabab militant group and Boko Haram.

As the first US president to address the AU, Obama is also anticipated to address the democratic deficit in many African nations before discussing the issue further with civil society delegates.

'Fledgling democracy'

The planned talks on Tuesday come just a day after Obama harshly criticized Ethiopia over its lack of human rights. Political opposition, civil society and media freedom continue to be limited in the east African state.

"There's still more work to do," Obama said in a blunt message to his Ethiopian counterpart Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Monday.

"There are certain principles we think have to be upheld," the president added.

Desalegn assured Obama of Ethiopia's "commitment to democracy" but later added "this is a fledgling democracy. It's not easy."

Malnutrition and poverty ever-present

Ahead of his departure on Tuesday, Obama will also hold bilateral talks with AU Commission chair

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and visit local food-processing business Faffa Foods.

The firm aims to reduce the risk of malnutrition among children through affordable, high protein infant food.

Many of Ethiopia's 94 million-strong population continue to suffer malnutrition and poverty, three decades since more than 400,000 people perished in a severe famine.

'Widespread unanimity' over South Sudan

During his first visit to the region as US president, Obama also met with regional leaders - including the presidents of Kenya and Uganda, the prime minister of Ethiopia, the AU Commission chair and Sudan's foreign minister - in the hope of paving the way for a peace deal in South Sudan.

"On South Sudan, there was widespread unanimity about the urgency and severity of the situation on the ground," a US official said, following the meeting.

According to the United Nations (UN), some 2 million people have been forced to flee South Sudan over the last 18 months as a result of the ongoing power struggle between South Sudanese President Salvar Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.

ksb/jil (AFP, dpa)

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