The 24-hour visit of President Adama Barrow to the Republic of Congo to meet with one of Africa’s longest serving dictator who just amended his country’s constitution to end two-term limit on presidential mandate is inimical to Gambia’s new diplomatic initiatives especially when Denis Sassou-Nguessou has acquired a reputation for rampant corruption, widespread nepotism and gross human rights abuses. Barrow made the trip without any cabinet minister as part of his delegation not even his foreign minister which does call into question the type of foreign policy he is being advised to pursue.
This visit is another misguided diplomatic blunder given that his host is one of Africa’s longest serving autocrat and has just extended his 32-year in power with a controversial win in elections held in 2016. Why give priority to a top African autocrat over other regional Heads of State who really helped our country during the difficult transition period which saw the displacement of thousands of Gambians to flee to our neighboring countries?
President Barrow visit is quoted by the local media as a friendly visit “to be able to learn from older brother Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who could also be an excellent advisor.” If Barrow wants to learn from his older brother Denis Sassou-Nguesso, let him not be advised on the reputation he has for gross human rights abuses, gross corruption and his penchant for amassing wealth when his people are the world’s most destitute in Africa. Is Barrow more concern with trade and oil? If so, why he did not travel with the trade minister?
Barrow who took over the presidency barely three-months ago, has yet to pay a visit to Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra-Leone, Ghana, Mali and Tchad. These are the countries that stood firmly with us when our own brutal dictator stubbornly refused to hand over power to him during the political impasse. A visit to the capitals of our neighboring countries will send the right signals that Gambians are grateful for all the help, resources and enormous sacrifices they made for us to continue living in peace and tranquility.
The Congolese leader has led the oil and timber-rich Congo Republic for over three decades. He won a controversial elections in March last year thus extending his long reign to another five years. He is been accused of stifling democracy and spreading nepotism which left many citizens and friends of the Gambia bewildered as to what type of foreign policy agenda is Barrow pursuing and why his foreign minister was not part of the delegation for this trip? Our biggest priority right now is to solve the persistent electricity and water crisis before the situation can escalate into a catastrophic situation.
It very sad that when the whole world are applauding our new found democracy, our new President is being misguided with a series of diplomatic blunders being played out in unchartered territories. We wait and see what benefits Gambians could gain from cooperating with another African dictator.
By A Diplomatic Insider