ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — In Barack Obama’s landmark speech before the African Union in July 2015 – the first by a sitting U.S. president – he told the assembled heads of state and delegates that the United States was ready to be a development partner with the continent, while warning that would come along with American promotion of human rights, whether they liked it or not.
“You are kind of stuck with us – this is how we are. We believe in these things and we’re going to keep talking about them,” he said to applause and laughter from the delegates.
Now a year and a half later, the African Union is grappling with a new U.S. president that has said very little about Africa but looks set to step away from decades of bipartisan investment in Africa and has advocated using torture during interrogations.
At the African Union’s annual summit meeting in Addis Ababa, that concluded Tuesday, Africa’s leaders heatedly debated a number of issues, including who to elect as chairman, Morocco’s return to the group, and whether to walk out from the International Criminal Court. But beyond the official agenda was a sense of unease over what many see as a new era of nationalism ushered in by the election of President Trump.