A Tanzanian newspaper has been suspended for 'insulting' President Magufuli

The newspaper was shut after publishing a letter from a reader containing "insults" against President John Magufuli and his government.

An independent Tanzanian newspaper has been suspended for two years, for allegedly publishing seditious content and for not adhering to professional code of conduct.

Information Services Director and the Chief Government Spokesperson, Dr Hassan Abbas said that Mwanahalisi newspaper was shut after publishing a letter from a reader containing "insults" against the head-of-state.

The offending letter said that Magufuli "claims to be a patriot, but questions the patriotism of anyone who opposes him. This is hypocritical."Mwanahalisi, in its Monday, September 18, 2017 publication, carried a story with the headline, "Tumuombee nani, Magufuli au Tundu Lissu?" (literally translated to should we pray fo Magufuli or Tundu Lissu). The headline was seen as a mockery towards the President's regular calls for people to pray for him, with the article asking if in fact one should not rather pray for opposition lawmaker Tundu Lissu who was shot and injured earlier this month.

Abbasi said the paper had received several warnings. The daily has been closed on several occasions in the past, for three months in 2008 and then three years between 2012 and 2015.

"On several occasions Mwanahalisi has been publishing stories that were unethical… we have tried to talk to them severally but they haven’t listened," Dr.Abbas said.He stated that the letter was the latest in a long line of violations of "ethics, principles of the journalistic profession by the publication of false, seditious articles that endanger national security".

"Government is suspending printing and publication of the Mwanahalisi newspaper for 24 months," said Abbasi adding that it will extend to its online publications.Since his October election Magufuli has shut down newspapers, banned opposition rallies, switched off live broadcasts of parliamentary sessions and used a draconian "cyber crimes" law to jail critics.

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