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Tanzania in media crackdown, closes third newspaper

Dar es Salaam – Tanzania on Friday shut down another newspaper, the third since June.

An arrangement of newspapers pictured in London on March 23, 2017, as an illustration, shows the front pages of the UK daily newspapers reporting on the March 22 terror attack that claimed at least three lives in Westminster central London.
Britain’s parliament reopened on Thursday with a minute’s silence in a gesture of defiance a day after an attacker sowed terror in the heart of Westminster, killing three people before being shot dead. Sombre-looking lawmakers in a packed House of Commons chamber bowed their heads and police officers also marked the silence standing outside the headquarters of London’s Metropolitan Police nearby.

The action is coming on the heels of the warning by President John Magufuli earlier in the year that the days of newspapers his government viewed as unethical were numbered.

Hassan Abbasi, the Director-General of the state-run Tanzania Information Services, said in a statement that Raia Mwema, a weekly newspaper, had been banned from publishing for 90 days, beginning on Friday.

“The independently-owned outlet was suspended, he said, after publishing an article this week saying Magufuli was destined to fail in his job and in which it attributed “fabricated” statements to the president.

“The government issued a lenient punishment despite the gravity of the offence because the editors admitted their mistake,’’ he said.

Tanzania suspended publication of the weekly MwanaHalisi newspaper for 24 months on Sept. 20 and banned another newspaper, Mawio, in June for a similar period.

Magufuli, nicknamed “The Bulldozer” for his forceful leadership style, has won some praise from Western donors for his anti-corruption drive and for cutting wasteful public spending.

However, opponents accused him of increasingly undermining democracy by curbing dissent and stifling free speech.


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