Tanzania shuts down newspaper for two years over articles on mining row

DAR ES SALAAM, June 15 (Reuters) - Tanzanian authorities on Thursday banned a newspaper for two years over articles it published linking two former Tanzanian presidents to alleged improprieties in mining deals signed in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli warned media and opposition politicians on Wednesday not to link former leaders to allegations of impropriety in past mining contracts.

“The government ... has suspended Mawio newspaper from publication for a period of 24 months effectively from today,” government spokesman Hassan Abbasi said in a statement.

A court had ordered Mawio to be shut down indefinitely in January 2016 but a court overturned that ruling in March.

Other newspapers have also published articles citing calls from lawmakers for Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete to be stripped of their immunity to face possible criminal investigation over mining contracts signed during their respective administrations.

Neither Mpaka nor Kikwete were reachable for comment.

Also on Thursday, two reports by presidential committees were published accusing mining companies of large-scale tax evasion and calling for a review of mining contracts and the mining code in what is Africa’s fourth-biggest gold producer. (Editing by Aaron Maasho and Louise Ireland)