President Barack Obama offers a toast during a state dinner hosted by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn at the National Palace in Addis Ababa on July 27, 2015. Obama is the first sitting U.S. president to visit Ethiopia.
(AP / Evan Vucci)
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – President Barack Obama is closing out a historic return to the land of his father’s birth with a speech to the African Union.
Obama begins his day Tuesday with a tour of a food manufacturing plant in Ethiopia. The East African nation is one of the largest recipients of U.S. emergency and development food aid, and the country participates in a U.S. government program to combat hunger worldwide.
Ethiopia is also the home of the African Union, and Obama will address the entire continent from the organization’s new headquarters in the capital.
It will be the first time that a sitting American president addresses the African Union.
Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, said the AU plays a lead role on an array of global issues, including peace and security, health and agriculture. She said Obama wanted to visit the AU and address the continent because the U.S. has come to work very closely with the union on many of these issues.
Obama will also meet one-on-one with Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission. She was among regional leaders Obama met with Monday to discuss the civil strife in neighbouring South Sudan.
Obama’s speech Tuesday will close a five-day, two-nation tour of Africa that began Friday when he landed in Kenya, where his late father was born.
The president travelled to Kenya to attend a U.S.-sponsored business development summit, but the trip was also a homecoming of sorts. The country considers Obama a local son and Kenyans have been waiting years to welcome him back as president of the United States. Many lined the streets in Kenya and Ethiopia to watch his motorcade drive by.
Obama also spent time catching up with relatives on his father’s side of the family who live in Kenya, including his sister, Auma Obama, and a grandmother.
In both countries, Obama challenged the country’s leaders to clean up their governments to help attract investment.
He also pressed them to uphold human rights, including gay equality, and basic democratic freedoms.
Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit both countries.
He arrives back in Washington early Wednesday.