One morning in December 2016, a tiny West African nation woke up to find its autocratic leader of 22 years had been toppled – and in his place was a former security guard for the Holloway Road branch of Argos. Anna Dubuis tells the story of Adama Barrow, the ultimate political outsider
Vanguard Africa Executive Director Jeffrey Smith, and advisory council member, David Rice, talk to World Politics' Review Peter Dorrie about social healing and next steps in the Gambia following the country's momentous democratic renewal.
“What's happening in Zambia with Hichilema is not an isolated incident, but rather serves to illustrate a larger pattern of repressing critical voices in the country,” said Jeffrey Smith, executive director of pro-democracy advocacy group Vanguard Africa.
“Under successive [Lungu’s party] Patriotic Front regimes, we have seen, unequivocally, a very dangerous slide towards authoritarianism. The warning signs have long been present,” Smith told Newsweek.
“The #BringBackOurInternet campaign generated international interest and condemnation [and] definitely helped lead to the restoration of internet,” Jeffrey Smith, Executive Director at pro-democracy advocacy group Vanguard Africa, tells Newsweek .
“Oftentimes, these repressive governments, those like Cameroon which have operated outside the international gaze, need to be spotlighted and shamed,” said Smith. “I think that's what happened here. The internet block became too costly for the regime.”
Jeffrey Smith, executive director of Vanguard Africa, says the odds are slim that outsiders will do much beyond issue statements of concern—something the U.S. Embassy and the European Union have already done in the wake of Hichilema’s arrest. In fact, Smith argues, Zambian officials have for years now been able to intimidate critics and target journalists with relative impunity, taking advantage of the country’s reputation for peaceful elections and transfers of power. “I think Zambia has been given quite a bit of leeway given their past successes,” Smith says.
Jeffrey Smith dirige Vanguard Africa, une agence de soutien médiatique aux David qui se battent contre les Goliath africains au pouvoir.
A doctors’ strike in Cameroon left patients without critical care in the capital Yaoude on Monday, the latest in a string of union actions that have crippled a country in the midst of political crisis.
"With elections coming up next year, we can expect the situation to get much worse before it gets better," said Jeffrey Smith from advocacy group Vanguard Africa.
Three months ago, Cameroon’s English speaking regions had their Internet access cut off due to mounting protests over the government bias in favor of French-speaking Cameroonians.
Jeffrey Smith, executive director of Vanguard Africa, a US pro-democracy group, said Mr Hichilema’s detention fit “part of a larger pattern” of “intruding authoritarianism” in Zambia.