“I actually think I’m a pretty good President. I think if I ran, I could win. But I can’t,” Obama ad-libbed during a speech in Ethiopia. “There’s a lot that I’d like to do to keep America moving. But the law is the law, and no person is above the law, not even the president.”
Obama’s remarks, which come on the same day that a new CNN/ORC poll found his approval rating standing in net-positive territory for the second month in a row, were made to the African Union in Addis Ababa. He is the first U.S. president to address the group, and was critiquing some African leaders’ reluctance to turn over power.
“Africa’s democratic progress is also at risk when leaders refuse to step aside when their terms end. Now let me be honest with you — I do not understand this,” Obama said, going on to say that he is looking forward to life after the presidency.
The loudest applause line of his address came when Obama said he didn’t understand the motivation behind remaining in power through force — even when leaders have “got a lot of money.”
Obama spoke extensively on the corruption within Ethiopia and other African nations, acknowledging that the problem is not unique to that part of the world.
“Nothing will unlock Africa’s economic potential more than ending the cancer of corruption,” Obama said. “When someone has to pay a bribe just to start a business or to go to school or get an official to do the job they’re supposed to be doing anyway — that’s not ‘the African way’; it undermines the dignity of the people you represent.”
Obama also touched on other controversial topics, including the treatment of journalists and women.
“I believe Ethiopia will not fully unleash the potential of its people if journalists are restricted or legitimate opposition groups can’t participate in the campaign process,” Obama said.
“To his credit, the Prime Minister acknowledged that more work will need to be done for Ethiopia to be a full-fledged, sustainable democracy,” Obama said, referring to Ethiopian leader Hailemariam Desalegn.
The President, referencing his role as a father, also spoke about women’s rights.
“As a father, I believe that my two daughters have to have the same chance to pursue their dreams as anybody’s son — and that same thing holds true for girls here in Africa,” Obama said. “Our girls have to be treated the same. We can’t let old traditions stand in the way.”
Obama was introduced by African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who said he climbed the “mount Everest of American politics” to become the first black president.
“Although we welcome you as President of the United States, we also claim you as our own,” Zuma said.