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Media organisations, journalists march for media freedom

(MISA/IFEX) - The Africa Press Agency reports that journalists from various media houses have demonstrated their displeasure at the suppression of press freedom in Tanzania during a protest march on 29 October 2008 in Dar es Salaam.

Editors and reporters from various media organisations staged the protest against the recent three-month ban imposed on the critical "Mwanahalisi" newspaper by the government of President Jakaya Kikwete.

For the first time in the history of Tanzania, local journalists expressed open outrage in the streets against the government, accusing it of trying to stifle media freedom in the country.

The scribes held placards denouncing the "state's disrespect of media freedom" and sealed their mouths with tapes to dramatise the authorities' bid to silence the press.

Peaceful protesters marched from Lugoda Street, in the Gerezani area, and ended at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Sports headquarters, where Editors Forum vice chairman Absalom Kibanda handed a petition to the assistant director of information, Habib Nyundo, addressed to Minister George Mkuchika.

The minister is in the capital, Dodoma, where he is attending parliament. He has been the main culprit in the case as far as the media is concerned, as evidenced by the editors' decision to black him out from news coverage for three months.

In the petition, the journalists demanded that the government reverse its decision to ban the tabloid, which has been critical of official corruption in the country.

At the ministry offices, Nyundo accepted the petition reluctantly, saying the ministry did not recognise the Editors Forum, which organised the march, since it was not officially registered.

For further information on the "Mwanahalisi" newspaper case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/97603

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