Arusha - Tanzania has suspended two leading Swahili-language
daily newspapers on sedition charges, the government said on Tuesday, a move
criticised by rights groups.
The authorities on Friday 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
The Committee to Protect Journalists said Tanzania often
relies "on an arsenal of anti-media laws" that allows the information
ministry "wide discretionary powers to ban" publications.
"The government could have taken their grievances
against Mwananchi and MTanzania to the Media Council of Tanzania, an ombudsman,
rather than summarily suspending the publications," the New York-based CPJ
The authorities singled out two articles in Mwananchi -- The
Citizen in Swahili -- for criticism.
One was a 17 July story on a new salary scheme for civil
servants, which the government complained was based on a confidential document
that the paper should not have had access to.
The second story, published in mid-August, was titled
"Muslims Pray Under Heavy Security," and was accompanied by a picture
of a police dog.
The government said the photograph implied that "the
police had taken dogs to Islamic places of worship. This was not true."
The government also banned MTanzania over articles that
alleged police involvement in attacks against citizens and suggested government
failures in stopping attacks, the statement said.
The statement singled out three articles: "The Bloody
Presidency," published on March 20, "Revolution Cannot Be
Avoided," on June 12 and "The Government Stinks of Blood," from 18
The government has warned the paper several times to stop
publishing "inflammatory content".