01:28 GMT +320 August 2019
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    President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama talk on the East front steps of the US Capitol after inauguration ceremonies on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC.

    Donald Who? Obama Refuses to Directly Name his Successor in Radio Interview

    © AFP 2019 / Robyn BECK
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    Former US President Barack Obama has snubbed his successor Donald Trump by refusing to name him directly in a unique radio interview conducted by Prince Harry, the fifth in line to the British throne.

    Despite Mr. Trump being fiercely critical of his predecessor, both personally and politically, since he entered the Oval Office, Barack Obama refused to be drawn into a slanging match, preferring instead not to mention his name during an interview for BBC Radio 4's Today program which was finally aired on December 27, having been recorded three months earlier.

    In his first interview since leaving office, Barack Obama declined the opportunity to voice his own thoughts on the current US president, possibly reflecting his wife Michelle's famous dictum "When they go low, you go high."

    'Public Conversation Harder'

    But the former president did air his personal views on the role of social media in today's world — a platform regularly used by Donald  Trump — warning facts are often being discarded and prejudices reinforced, making public conversation harder."

    "All of us in leadership have to find ways to recreate a common space on the internet. One of the dangers of the internet is people can have entirely different realities. They can be just cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases," said Barack Obama, in an interview recorded in Toronto in September.

    "Social media had a power to convene and connect but people should then "meet in a pub, a place of worship, or a neighborhood and get to know each other," he told Prince Harry.

    "The truth is, on the internet everything is simplified, but when you meet people face to face it turns out it is complicated," he added. 

    Obnoxious People 'Hide on the Internet' 

    "It is harder to be obnoxious and cruel in person as people can be anonymously on the internet," Barack Obama insisted.

    Discussing his own record at the White House, the former president admitted he regarded his health reforms, providing insurance to 20 million people, as his greatest legacy. 

    Since leaving office he has been using social media to encourage Americans to take up the extended offer of insurance.

    Prince Harry and Barack Obama spent part of an often personal interview talking about their shared "obsession" in empowering a new generation of young civic leaders worldwide, an issue that lies at the heart of the Obama Foundation, the central vehicle for Barack Obama's post-presidential public work.

    Baradk Obama said he feared their energy, often displayed on the internet, was being held back by "the bias of those who are comfortable with power the way it is currently exercised."

    'This Generation is the Most Sophisticated'

    He said: "This generation is the most sophisticated, the most tolerant in many ways, the most embracing of diversity, the most tech-savvy, the most entrepreneurial, but they do not have much faith in existing institutions."

    A former constitutional lawyer, Barack Obama said he did not wish to censor social media.

    "The question is: how do we harness this technology that allows a multiplicity of voices, a diversity of views but does not lead to a Balkanization of our society but rather continues to promote ways of finding common ground?" said Barack Obama.

    Asked about anything he had missed since leaving office, the ex-president said he missed the camaraderie of his team.

    "I used to cause traffic, I now experience traffic," he quipped.

    Thanks to Michelle Obama

    He said his first thought on leaving office was that he had been thankful Michelle "had been my partner through that whole process."

    "She is a spectacular, funny and warm person. She is not someone who is naturally inclined to politics, so in some ways though she was as good a first lady as ever been, she did this largely in support of my decision to run," he said.

    "For us to be able to come out of that intact — our marriage strong, we are still each other's best friends, our daughters turning into amazing young women — there was a sense of completion, and that we had done the work in a way that maintained our integrity and left us whole and fundamentally unchanged," he added.    

    Barack Obama, a Democrat, was elected president in 2008 and was the first African-American to hold the highest office in the US. He was re-elected in 2012, a year after giving the green light to the assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

    Obama gave his support to fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton in last year's election but she was defeated by Donald Trump, a businessman who became the Republican nominee and ran on a platform which included building a huge wall along the Mexican border, which he insists Mexico will pay for.


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