‘It’s just barbarity.’ Togo’s Political Prisoners Describe Torture in Police Custody (Los Angeles Times – June 3)

“It’s a military regime with a civilian figurehead at the top effectively doing their business for them,” said Jeffrey Smith, the founder of Vanguard Africa, a Washington nonprofit that works with Togolese pro-democracy activists. Gnassingbe “is putting a patina of legitimacy on an otherwise illegitimate military regime,” he said.

Gambia: The ‘Star Performer’ in Democratic Transition (Democracy Digest – May 31)

“It’s clear the new government is genuinely resolved to make a clear and unequivocal break from the dictatorial past,” says Jeffrey Smith, director of Vanguard Africa, a pro-democracy outfit. “But the perception is that much of that goodwill has yet to be translated to on-the-ground results.”

Gabon’s Bongo Bids to Entrench Power Before Parliamentary Vote (Bloomberg News – May 29)

“Rather than a rebuke of the government’s failure to hold overdue legislative elections, this is merely a dubious measure to strengthen the president’s weakened hand,” said Jeffrey Smith, executive director of Vanguard Africa, a U.S.-based non-profit organization that monitors elections in Africa.

Canada denies visa to famed anti-corruption campaigner Rafael Marques de Morais (Globe and Mail – April 27)

Jeffrey Smith, executive director of Vanguard Africa, a U.S.-based non-profit organization that works for free elections in Africa, said the Canadian decision to reject the visa application is “a disservice to the decades-long selfless sacrifices that Rafael has made.”

How Tanzania’s Government is Trying to Dismantle the Free Press ‘Piece by Piece’ (World Politics Review – April 20)

In an email interview, Jeffrey Smith, the executive director of Vanguard Africa, and Vincent Mashinji, secretary general of Tanzania’s main opposition party, CHADEMA, discuss Tanzania’s assault on the media and how the government is “promoting authoritarian rule, rather than the rule of law.” 

Can This Pop Star Topple Uganda’s Strongman President? (Ozy.com – April 4, 2018)

According to Jeffrey Smith, executive director of the pro-democracy nonprofit Vanguard Africa, this demographic tension bodes well for Kyagulanyi. “If he’s able to build a campaign structure to effectively channel this energy,” says Smith, “Uganda’s ruling class could be in for a shock.”

What is Happening in Ethiopia? State of Emergency, Protests and Political Crisis Explained (Newsweek – February 19)

"The latest state of emergency in Ethiopia, the second in two years, is an extension of the long repressive status quo, and that status quo is increasingly untenable," Jeffrey Smith, Executive Director at Vanguard Africa, which advocates for free and fair transfers of power in the continent, told Newsweek.

"If the country's leaders are in any way committed to pulling the country out of its economic, humanitarian and political tailspin, then long overdue democratic reforms are necessary."

Zimbabwe Government to Help in Laying Late Opposition Leader Morgan Tsvangirai to Rest (Voice of America – February 15)

The executive director of the US-based nonprofit Vanguard Africa, Jeffrey Smith, also paid tribute to Tsvangirai on twitter. “Go well and rest in power, Morgan Tsvangirai. His steadfast courage and willingness to stand tall against one of the most repressive regimes on the African continent should be applauded. He pushed #Zimbabwe's pro-democracy struggle further than anyone. He will be missed by many.”

Ethiopia Wants Political Prisoners to Sign “Confession” Forms Before Release (Quartz Africa – Feb. 12)

Jeffrey Smith, the executive director of advocacy nonprofit Vanguard Africa, says that undertaking these actions against prisoners “will only exacerbate the social and political fissures that are increasingly evident in the country.”