Africa

Tanzania suspends newspaper for story on president it calls false

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Tanzania's new President Samia Suluhu Hassan takes oath of office following the death of her predecessor John Pombe Magufuli at State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer

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NAIROBI, Aug 11 (Reuters) - The Tanzanian government on Wednesday suspended a local newspaper for running what it called a false story saying that President Samia Suluhu Hassan would not vie for office in 2025, the first newspaper suspension in Hassan's tenure.

The suspended newspaper, Uhuru, is owned by the country's ruling party Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), which has in effect been in power since 1961.

The ban came after Uhuru on Wednesday on Wednesday a front-page story, "I Don't Have Intentions to Contest for Presidency in 2025 - Samia."

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"President Samia Suluhu Hassan has not said any information that she does not have intentions to contest for presidency in 2025," Gerson Msigwa, Tanzania's director of information services and chief spokesperson said in a statement.

Hassan took office in March following the death of predecessor John Magufuli, nicknamed "the bulldozer," who downplayed the severity of COVID-19 and banned several newspapers during his six-year administration.

Since taking office, Hassan has indicated a change in course, urging public vigilance on COVID-19 and instituting measures to curb its spread.

In April, she said the government would re-instate media outlawed by Magufuli. Soon after, however, officials clarified that only online television would benefit from the measure but that banned newspapers could reapply for their licences.

The ruling CCM party said Uhuru's board had already suspended three top officials managing the newspaper, including the CEO, over the story.

The party was investigating what happened, CCM General Secretary Daniel Chongolo told reporters.

The suspension would last for 14 days and Uhuru could file an appeal to the minister of information, Msigwa said.

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Reporting by Nairobi Newsroom; Writing by Ayenat Mersie; editing by David Evans

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