Opposition politicians on 30 January have launched a spoof tourism campaign online to highlight what they describe as a deteriorating situation in resource-rich Congo-Brazzaville.
Formerly named the French Congo after 1882, modern-day Congo-Brazzaville (or Republic of the Congo), was rocked by a significant outbreak of violence on 4 April 2016. It was the day the Constitutional Court published final election results showing President Denis Sassou Nguesso had won a hotly contested March presidential poll after he amended the constitution to remove presidential term limits.
While the nation of four million rarely captures global attention, the Congolese opposition and several rights groups claim hundreds of civilians may have been killed and thousands more displaced in security operations carried out by Sassou Nguesso's government, including in Pool, the south-eastern region of Congo-Brazzaville.
Collectif Sassoufit – a pro-opposition collective representing Congolese civilians behind a protest movement – launched a parody campaign inviting tourists to visit Congo, to highlight what it describes as a worsening situation in the country.
Collectif Sassoufit, a play on the expression Ça suffit (Enough) and Sassou Nguesso's surname, was created in April 2014 by three young activists, including Andréa Ngombe, in light of Sassou Nguesso's decision to amend the constitution to stay in power.
"Visit Congo and its...", the spoof posters denounce deadly bombardments in Pool, "dictator" Sassou Nguesso, poor and insufficient school and waste management infrastructures, the alleged presence of armed mercenaries and torture chambers.
"Visit the Congo – or when [Sassou NGuesso] wants to do an open-air prison a tourist destination," Ngombe said about the campaign dubbed #VisitezleCongo. "We offer you this beautiful satirical campaign which shows Congo, the real Congo."
Ngombet's comments are in reference to a Paris Match article in which journalist Guy-Milex Mbondzi alleged Congo-Brazzaville had "almost become an open-air prison" following the arrests of several members of the opposition including André Okombi Salissa and Congolese journalist Ghys Fortuné Bemba.