Obama calls for end to voter suppression

Washington: Former US President Barack Obama has sharply criticised what he described as Republican attempts at voter suppression, saying that people in power were “attacking our voting rights with surgical precision” and called for wide reform, the media reported on Friday.

In a eulogy delivered at civil rights icon John Lewis’s funeral on Thursday in the Ebeneezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Obama launched a stinging attack on incumbent President Donald Trump’s administration and some police departments, reports the BBC.

“Today we witness with our own eyes, police officers kneeling on the necks of black Americans,” he said.

“We can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators.”

He said people in the government were “doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting” by closing polling stations and imposing “restrictive ID laws” on minorities and students.

Obama also proposed a series of reforms to voting in the US, including making sure Americans are automatically registered to vote; giving the vote to former prison inmates who had “earned their second chance”; creating new polling stations and expand early voting; and making election day a national holiday so workers who can’t get time off can vote.

Paying tribute to Lewis, Obama said he had become the first African-American President because of the Congressman’s fight for civil rights for blacks.

Lewis, also a Democrat, did “everything he could to preserve this democracy and as long as we have breath in our bodies, we have to continue his cause”, the BBC news reported quoted Obama as saying.

The service was also attended by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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