Rights groups lobby Nicki Minaj to cancel concert in Angola


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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Rights groups are lobbying rapper Nicki Minaj to cancel her upcoming concert in Angola, a southern African country often criticized for human rights abuses and corruption.

Minaj is set to perform in the capital, Luanda, in a holiday season concert organized by Angolan mobile phone company Unitel, according to local media reports.

"Guess who's performing in Angola Dec 19th at the Unitel Christmas Festival," Minaj tweeted, also sharing the event's poster on her Instagram account. The award-winning rapper will share the stage with local acts at the stadium concert, according to the Unitel website.

The Angolan president's daughter owns a large stake in Unitel, the country's biggest mobile phone network, according to the Human Rights Foundation.

"Nicki Minaj is a global artist," the foundation's president, Thor Halvorssen, said in a statement. "There is no good reason for her to do business with the corrupt Angolan dictatorship and endorse the ruler's family company."

A representative for Minaj did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The group has written a letter to Minaj, urging her to cancel the performance and instead support a local rapper who was jailed along with other youth activists.

"As a strong-willed independent artist, shouldn't you be advocating for the release of the imprisoned rapper Luaty Beirao (who was arrested in June and charged with preparing a rebellion) rather than entertaining the dictator and his thieving family?" the letter read.

"Nicki Minaj is following in the footsteps of Mariah Carey, callously taking money from a dictator who's been in power for nearly four decades," said Jeffrey Smith, Africa policy director for the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights group.

Singer Mariah Carey performed at an Angolan Red Cross gala in Angola in 2013, according to the Human Rights Foundation. Carey was reportedly paid $1 million for the performance, sponsored by Unitel.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has ruled the oil-rich country for 36 years.

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Lynsey Chutel

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