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Independent Tanzania media boycott information minister

Local people look at a newspaper stand/AFP

Local people look at a newspaper stand/AFP

ARUSHA, Oct 10 – Tanzania’s main independent media said Thursday they are boycotting coverage of the information minister in protest after two major newspapers were suspended for sedition.

Authorities last week suspended the privately-owned Mwananchi and MTanzania for 14 and 90 days respectively for publishing “hostile articles aimed at inciting the people to lose confidence in state institutions and thus endanger peace and national unity,” a government statement said.

Another newspaper, Mwanahalisi, has remained closed since it was ordered shut in July 2012.

Media groups including organisations of media owners, editors, the national media council and the journalists’ union said in a statement that they had decided “for an indefinite period” not to provide coverage of the Minister of Information Fennela Mukangara and her deputy.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has criticised Tanzania for often relying “on an arsenal of anti-media laws” that allows the information ministry “wide discretionary powers to ban” publications.

Rights groups and Tanzania’s political opposition have condemned the newspaper closures, as has the European Union delegation in the east African country.

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