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President Obama will be meeting with Ali Bongo Ondimba, the controversial president of Gabon who has been accused of human rights violations.

In April 2011, Gabon was cited for “ritualistic killings,” “use of excessive force by police,” and “restrictions on privacy and press,” by the Department of State.

Jack Blum, a consultant to the United Nations, says the invitation sends a bad message.

White House press secretary Jay Carney defended the President’s decision to invite the African leader, even though he has a “less than sterling” record.

“Gabon has voted in ways that we consider very helpful on issues like Cote d’Ivoire, Libya and Iran,” Carney said at a news briefing on Wednesday. “It has been an important ally in our efforts in those countries through the United Nations.”