Zambia Silences Largest Independent Newspaper

     LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) — Zambia’s government has closed the country’s largest privately owned newspaper over unpaid taxes, but the paper’s owner says the move is meant to shut him up before elections in August.
     The Post Newspaper has been a staunch critic of the government since its founding over 25 years ago.
     The Zambia Revenue Authority is demanding unpaid taxes of about $6 million that the Supreme Court last week ordered the newspaper to pay. But newspaper owner Fred M’membe said Wednesday his company has paid the bulk of the money owed to the state. He accused President Edgar Lungu of trying to silence him.
     The newspaper’s office and printing press were closed Wednesday, but deputy managing editor Joseph Mwenda said they would continue publishing “with a ballpoint pen” if necessary.
     The closure of the newspaper comes as Zambia nears general elections on 11 August and election campaigning is stepping up.
     Amnesty International criticized the action against the newspaper as a deliberate ploy to silence the media ahead of the election.
     “The closure of The Post newspaper is a disturbing development clearly designed to silence critical media voices. The shutting down of one of Zambia’s main independent newspapers in the run up to an election is an affront to media freedom and the authorities should immediately reverse their decision,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.
     Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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