In Picture: The Obama Moment


Hosting United States President Barack Obama, left, as the first sitting president to visit Ethiopia was a thrilling experience for the administration of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, centre. Ethiopia was the second and last leg of Obama’s latest African tour, considered his last as a president, the first took him to the birth nation of his father, Kenya. The official visit was received with ecstasy, not only by those in authority, including Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom, right, but also the larger public. Obama’s visit, considered by opponents of Hailemariam’s administration as “putting the last nail in the coffin of democracy”, was intended to solidify the relationship of United States and Ethiopia in the areas of peace and security, institutional development and economy.

Welcomed by high-level officials late on July 26, 2015, President Obama spent the next two days in discussion with high level Ethiopians officials, visiting historical places and economic hubs, such as the Faffa Food Complex S.C., and meeting with regional partners to discuss key US security interests, such as the war in South Sudan and the volatility in Somalia.

But the peak of the visit came on Tuesday, July 28, 2015, when the President addressed the African Union (AU), headquartered in Addis Abeba, as the first sitting president to do so. The address, which brought Obama’s widely recognised eloquence and comprehension closer, dealt with varying issues resonating with the contemporary reality of the continent. In his speech, interrupted frequently by applause, Obama underlined the need for African governments to create opportunities for their bulging young population and to uphold to the rule of law, as written in their founding documents. Days after the conclusion of the presidential visit, the issue of how to receive his message remains a divisive one – both within the power circles and the public sphere.



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