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Dar es Salaam - The editors of two newspapers shut down by the Tanzanian government after publishing a series of critical articles said Monday they were in talks with officials to overturn the ban.
The Director of Tanzania Information Services, Assah Mwambene, announced at the weekend that Mwananchi newspaper, a daily with one of the largest circulations in the country, would be banned for two weeks.
Mtanzania, a smaller daily, was banned for 90 days. Both papers publish in the KiSwahili language, the most common tongue in the East African nation.
The papers are accused of publishing allegedly seditious and provocative items, including a report on the salaries of government employees and editorials against the government's heavy handed approach to tackling protests.
“We have written to the minister explaining why we believe that the stories which have been faulted by the government are valid. We hope that the minister will see to our explanation and repeal the penalty,” Tido Mhando, an executive working with the publishing house behind Mwananchi, told staff.
“Otherwise we will be back on October 11,” Mhando added.
Absalom Kibanda, the managing editor at New Habari, which publishes Mtanzania, confirmed his company too was turning to the government to reverse the ban.
“We are extremely worried with what's happening in Tanzania,” said Levi Kabwato, an activist with the Media Institute of Southern Africa, a press freedom group.
“The recent ban on Mwananchi and Mtanzania points to a country that is following a disturbing trend,” Kabwato said.
The weekly newspaper MwanaHalisi has been banned for over a year for allegedly inciting soldiers to mutiny.
Tanzania was ranked 70th in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.