Mandela lecture: Barack Obama condemns disregard for facts

Barack Obama

"It sends a message that when you have been given a privilege to serve, if you do things that are untoward, no matter what position you serve in, you are no higher than the law", said Lumumba. "I can't find common ground if someone just says climate change isn't happening".

Obama, however, suggested that on Mandela's 100th birthday, the world now "stands a crossroad" and that the world should respond to threats to global democracy appropriately.

The President flip-flopped on his stance on the matter, having said a year ago he believed Russian Federation was behind the interference, but back-pedaling Monday to claim he believed Putin's account that Russian Federation was not involved. His remarks also come just one day after President Trump appeared to fault the USA for Russia's role in meddling in the 2016 election after holding a day-long summit with known adversary Russian President Vladimir Putin. They just make stuff up.

Barack Obama

In delivering the annual Nelson Mandela Lecture before thousands of South Africans, Obama is expected to highlight how the Nobel Peace Prize victor, 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.

Some of Obama's language echoed that of Trump's critics. "If you start saying it's an elaborate hoax, I don't know where to start".

Obama reminded the audience "we've been through darker times". "We see it in the utter loss of shame in political leaders - where they utter a lie and then just double down and lie some more".

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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".

"For nearly all countries, progress is going to depend on an inclusive market-based system - one that offers education for every child, that protects collective bargaining and secures the rights of every worker", Obama began. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Mandela's widow Graca Machel were introducing Obama for the annual Nelson Mandela Lecture. But in doing so they were able to elevate the rights and ambitions of the disenfranchised and the weak.

Both men were the first black presidents of their countries.

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Many South Africans view Obama as a successor to Mandela because of his groundbreaking role and his support for racial equality in the US and around the world.

The speech in honour of Mandela, who died in 2013 aged 95, comes a day after Trump was widely condemned for comments he made during a joint press conference with Putin. He helped South Africa break the practice of racial segregation and do away with white minority rule.

"Democracy depends on strong institutions", Obama said, calling on people to reject election results where "the victor somehow gets 90 percent of the vote because all of the opposition is locked up or can't get on TV".

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