Gambia’s President Adama Barrow, who said Republic of Congo’s autocratic ruler Denis Sassou-Nguesso is an “excellent adviser,” is facing criticism for visiting the longtime leader.
Barrow heaped praises on Sassou-Nguesso during his first visit to the Central African region, where former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh is being holed up in Equatorial Guinea.
‘‘I came to be able to learn from my older brother Denis Sassou-Nguesso, he could also be an excellent advisor,” Barrow said. ‘‘It is important for me to meet and learn from his experience.’‘
He added that his Congolese counterpart was a man whose political experience should be tapped by all across the continent.
But what could be there for a man who came to power by standing up to a brute to learn from a depost like Sassou-Nguesso, Barrow’s critics and even his supporters are asking.
Congo faces increasing restrictions on press freedom and political opponents. Most authority and political power is vested in President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, one of the longest serving leaders in Africa after first coming to power over three decades ago.
Amnesty International said principal human rights concerns include restrictions on freedom of press, assembly, expression, and movement; poor prison conditions; ethnic discrimination and failure to protect asylum-seekers.
Critics and observers say, President Sassou-Nguesso is the wrong person to advise Barrow, who came to power after the ouster of Gambia’s dictator, Yahya Jammeh.
Barrow was installed after regional forces were deployed to the Gambia to oust Jammeh. A political crisis flarred after Jammeh refused to cede power, nearly slipping the country into civil war.
The Congolese leader is head of the African Union (AU) efforts aimed at resolving the current security and political impasse in Libya, where many Gambian migrants seeking to reach Europe have been falsely imprisoned and forced into labor.