Obama warns of ‘strange and uncertain times’

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BBC/AFP:  Former US president Barack Obama has used his first high-profile speech since stepping down as US President to say “you have to believe in facts”.

His comments are seen as a riposte to the current US administration’s use of “alternative facts”. “Without facts there is no basis for co-operation,” he said at the annual Nelson Mandela lecture in South Africa marking 100 years since Nelson Mandela’s birth.

Obama also warned of “strange and uncertain times”, a day after Donald Trump refused to challenge Vladimir Putin over interference in US elections.

Obama made no direct reference to his successor but warned that the “politics of fear and resentment” were spreading across the world.

Obama criticised climate-change deniers, race-based migration policies, unbridled capitalism and “strongman politics” — all issues likely to be seen as veiled attacks on Trump.

“Given the strange and uncertain times we are in, each day’s news cycles brings more head-spinning and disturbing headlines, I thought maybe it would be useful to step back for a moment and get some perspective,” Obama said at the start of his speech.

Obama spoke to a crowd of more than 10,000 people at a cricket stadium in Johannesburg in the centrepiece event of celebrations marking 100 years since Nelson Mandela’s birth.

“It is in part because of the failures of governments and powerful elites… that we now see much of the world threatening to return to an older, more dangerous, more brutal way of doing business,” Obama said.

“You have to believe in facts, without facts there is no basis from cooperation,” he said.

“I can’t find common ground when someone says climate change is not happening.”

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