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Tanzania bans regional newspaper

Regional newspaper The EastAfrican has been banned in Tanzania, 20 years after it began circulating in the country.

According to a letter sent to The EastAfrican bureau chief in Tanzania, the decision was taken because the paper “has been circulating in the country without having registration”.

The management of the Nation Media Group (NMG), the company that owns The EastAfrican, said  the decision was surprising and unwarranted.

The letter dated January 21, 2015 orders an immediate stop to publication, printing and circulation of the weekly in Tanzania “until it has officially been registered by Registrar of Newspaper, Tanzania Information Services’’.

Before the letter was issued, Director of Information Services and  Government Spokesman Assa Mwambene summoned Mr Christopher Kidanka, the bureau chief, on Wednesday, and interrogated him.

NEGATIVE AGENDA

During the session, the official  expressed discontent with the newspaper’s reporting and analysis,  including opinion articles.

Mr Mwambene accused it of pursuing a negative agenda against Tanzania. He singled out a recent opinion that criticised Dar es Salaam’s stance on FDLR rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a case in point.

Mr Mwambene also took exception to the cartoon in this week’s issue, which he said was in bad taste and showed disrespect to the President and his office.

NMG chairman Wilfred Kiboro said the government’s reason was surprising because the newspaper had been circulating in the country for 20 years.

“Surely they can’t just wake up now and declare us illegal. If it was an issue of regularizing files, that does not require such a draconian measure banning a newspaper,” he said.

NMG, through its subsidiary Mwananchi Communications Ltd, also published Mwananchi, The Citizen and Mwanaspoti newspapers in Tanzania.