US president Barrack Obama has told the AU in Addis Ababa that leaders should not break the law to extend their stay in office.

In a reference to the decision by Burundi’s president Pierre Nkurunziza to seek a third term in violation of his country’s constitution and African leaders such as Rober Mugabe of Zimbabwe who have stayed in office for decades, Obama said leaders needed to respect the law or risk destabilising their countries.

Telling delegates “I am a pretty young man”, Obama said he was sure he would win an election if he stood again for Us president, but he would not do this because it was against the law.

“Nobody should be president for life,”  he said. This was especially so if the individuals who wanted to stay in power were already rich, he said.

Obama delivered a tough human rights message to the session, saying “When journalists are put behind bars and activists are threatened, then you have democracy in name but not in substance.

“Every person has worth. Every person matters. Every person deserves to be treated with decency and respect.”

Obama said: “If you want your country to grow and succeed, you need to empower more women.”

Obama earlier said: “I stand before you as a proud American and I also stand before you as a son of an African. Africa and its people helped to shape America and allowed it to become the nation that it is.”

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