Former US President Barrack Obama decries the “utter loss of shame” in political leaders in an apparent jab at his successor Donald Trump.
He made the comments while delivering the 2018 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Tuesday a day after Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, held a summit in the Finnish capital Helsinki.
The former US leader warned that “strongman politics are ascending suddenly, whereby elections, some pretense of democracy, are maintained, the form of it.”
He also spoke of “strange and uncertain” times, saying that “each day’s news cycle is bringing more head-spinning and disturbing headlines.”
“We see the utter loss of shame in political leaders when they’re caught in a lie and they just double down and lie some more,” Obama said, warning of “democracy’s undoing” through leaders who “completely make stuff up.”
Trump has been accused of dismissing the US intelligence community’s claims that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election alongside Putin in Helsinki.
“Democracy depends on strong institutions,” Obama said, calling on people to reject election results where “the winner somehow gets 90 percent of the vote because all of the opposition is locked up or can’t get on TV.”
“My message to you is simple,” said the former president. “Keep believing, keep marching, keep building, keep raising your voice.”