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Tanzania government bans critical newspaper for two years

DAR ES SALAAM – The Tanzanian government banned a popular tabloid for two years on Tuesday, saying the paper – known for being critical of the state – threatened national peace.

“Despite constant warnings and directives, Mwanahalisi editors have continued to publish stories which are unethical and sometimes a threat to the national peace and security,” Hassan Abbas, chief government spokesperson, said at a press conference.

The editor of Mwanahalisi rejected any wrongdoing however, telling dpa the publication had always adhered to a high standard of journalism and ethics.

Jabir Idrissa said the newspaper would take the government to court over the forced closure.

“With my 30 years plus in journalism I don’t think that I am a person to ‘cook’ a story as the government alleges,” he told dpa.

It is not the first time the government has attempted to ban Mwanahalisi. In 2012 it also tried to shutter the newspaper, but the editors went to court and the ban was ruled illegal.

Another Tanzanian publication, Mawio, was banned earlier this year.

Reporters Without Borders, which monitors press freedom, ranked the East African country 83rd out of 180 countries in their 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

“Abuses against journalists and media outlets – including suspensions and closures, threats, attacks, and arrests – are frequent,” the group said in their overview of Tanzania.

 

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