Barack Obama's Speech on Nelson Mandela's Birth Centenary: 'Strongman Politics Undermining Democracy Across The World'
Barack Obama delivered a speech to a 74,000-strong gathering at the Johannesburg stadium on Tuesday | File Image | (Photo Credits: Getty)

Johannesburg, July 17: On the birth centenary of anti-apartheid icon and former South African president Nelson Mandela, former United States president Barack Obama said the forces "standing for liberty" need to combat those who are attempting undermine democracy.

Obama said the values of Mandela are not under threat only in some parts of Africa, but the phenomenon of "strongman politics" - which is in stark contradiction to the late anti-apartheid leader's vision - is on the rise in all parts of the globe.

Obama, who became the first black president of the United States, said the democratic institutions which allowed his ascent to the top of US polity, would not last if steps are not taken to check the "undermining of democratic institutions" by populist leaders.

Without directly attacking the presidency of his successor, Donald Trump, Obama said the times are distressing to the extent where those nations which safeguarded the cause of equality and liberty may go astray.

"Each day’s news cycle is bringing more head-spinning and disturbing headlines," Obama said, adding, "We see much of the world threatening to return to a more dangerous, more brutal, way of doing business."

Obama claimed the pace at which the world is increasingly turning "intolerant and protectionist" was inconceivable a decade ago. He blamed leaders across the world of playing the "politics of fear, resentment and retrenchment" for their electoral gains.

"Strongman politics is undermining democracy across the world...I'm not being an alarmist, but simply stating the facts," Obama told the gathering of nearly 74,000 people at the Johannesburg stadium.

Although he made no direct reference to Trump, the listeners erupted in massive applause when academic John Stremlau - one of the key organisers of the event - said the "values represented by Mandela and Obama" is the counter to the likes of "Putin and Trump".