VISIT: Boris Johnson with President Adama Barrow CREDIT: Twitter
FOREIGN SECRETARY Boris Johnson is facing criticism after allegedly refusing to answer questions on colonialism during an official visit to The Gambia.
Johnson's PR team stressed he would not respond to questions perceived as "too aggressive" and "insulting" during a press conference in the capital Banjul.
Johnson, who met Gambia's new president Adama Barrow in a bid to boost relations, is known for his controversial remarks on colonialism in Africa, which he defined as "that country" during a 2016 conference.
People reacted with surprise and outrage after the foreign secretary's press team allegedly prevented Gambian journalists from asking questions about Britain's colonial history in Gambia, a former British colony.
Speaking on the controversy, Gambian journalist Sainey MK Marenah told IBTimes UK: "The British foreign secretary's refusal to take questions from journalists on colonialism is not encouraging as Gambians welcome their new found freedom."
"He [Johnson] might have [an] ulterior motive in avoiding such questions, looking at his past writing on Africa. I hope Boris will change his perception on Africa and help rebuild [a] new Gambia. The fact that he chose to visit Gambia is welcoming, but his action is uncalled.... Freedom of media must be respected by all and sundry, irrespective of who is involved," Marenah continued.
The Foreign Office has denied claims Johnson refused to answer any questions. In a statement quoted to The Guardian, a spokesperson said: "The foreign secretary met Gambian journalists after his talks with President Barrow. He spoke about his visit and his hopes for UK-Gambia relations, and took two questions from Gambian journalists."