The former president, who is accused of decades of human rights abuses, fled to Equatorial Guinea in January after being offered asylum by fellow dictator Teodoro Obiang. Since then, nothing has been heard from him - but photos have now emerged showing him starting a new life in agriculture.
“A prosecution may only come in the long term, after the truth and reconciliation committee plays out, but I think the new government in Banjul will pay attention to those campaigning for it to happen,” says Jeffrey Smith, executive director of Vanguard Africa, an American pro-democracy NGO. “I wouldn’t be surprised if ultimately one day we see Jammeh in handcuffs.”
“The U.S. in particular is just so desperate for a development success story that leaders at least on this side of the Atlantic are willing to turn a blind eye to these other, more negative developments,” says Jeffrey Smith, executive director of Vanguard Africa, a Washington-based group that promotes reform-minded opposition politicians.
Likable and responsive, Jeffrey Smith has built relationships with dozens of activists, from Angola to Zimbabwe, and has American officials at the highest echelons on speed dial. One of his strengths: Getting D.C. power brokers and activists who fight repressive regimes in the same room. Another? Twitter, which he has used to build a constituency for change among human rights wonks, policymakers, and leaders and activists in Africa and its diaspora. For Smith, Twitter is part watercooler, part advocacy megaphone. He tweets throughout the day on serious topics, like political economy and dictatorship, but also uses Twitter to create and nurture camaraderie, even community.
Después de 22 años, Gambia finalmente tiene un nuevo presidente. ¿Por qué tantísimos votantes le agradecieron a un par de tipos en Washington, D. C.?
There are still Zimbabweans - and not just in the rural areas - who support and idolize Mugabe (though there's little doubt a bit of vote-rigging always helps win an election).
According to Gambia analyst Jeffrey Smith, rejoining the Commonwealth is one of President Barrow’s top priorities as it is part of a wider process of rebuilding ties severed during Jammeh’s 22 years in power. “It’s all part of a process of social healing, bringing people back together, both in the country and reconnecting Gambia to the world,” says Smith, executive director at U.S.-based NGO Vanguard Africa, which was a vocal supporter of Barrow during the election. “In that sense, it ranks at the very top [of Barrow’s priorities].”
"The continued persecution, intimidation and harassment of activists by the Mugabe regime is paving the way for their own demise," Jeffrey Smith, executive director of Vanguard Africa told News24. "Instead of stifling dissent as in years past, the continued crackdown might actually embolden more of it."
Jeffrey Smith knew he wouldn’t get much sleep on December 1. The American human rights advocate sat up all night in front of his computer in Washington, D.C., with his dog Theo, watching as votes in the Gambian election trickled in. More than 4,000 miles away, in the West African country, volunteers in the capital city, Banjul, were emailing him results. The contest promised to be pivotal: Yahya Jammeh, Gambia’s eccentric, autocratic president of 22 years, was facing an unexpectedly strong challenge from Adama Barrow, 51, a mild-mannered real-estate agent, who had months earlier been relatively unknown.
After weeks of turmoil and uncertainty, Gambians are looking forward to getting the country "back on track," one human rights campaigner told CNN ahead of Barrow's return to Gambia this week.
Jeffrey Smith is the executive director of Vanguard Africa, a nonprofit organization that provides support to pro-reform political candidates and backed Barrow's campaign.
Smith told CNN: "The priority right now is getting the country back on track. Gambians just want to get on with building the country back up again."