Zambia: Hichilema’s Treason Trial Sheds Light on Political Tensions (Newsweek – May 2)

“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.

Residents of English Speaking Cameroon Have Internet Restored (Newsweek – April 25)

“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.” 

A Road Rage Case in Zambia is Renewing Fear for the Country’s Democracy (World Politics Review – April 20)

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. 

Gambia’s Ousted Dictator Seeks more Modest Title: Humble Farmer (The Telegraph, UK – April 8)

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.

Gambia’s Ousted Dictator is Living the Good Life in a Palace in Equatorial Guinea (Foreign Policy – April 3)

“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.”