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Tanzania threatens to de-register churches that criticise president

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Tanzania has threatened to revoke the registration of religious organisations that “mix religion and politics” after a cleric criticised President John Magufuli’s leadership in a Christmas sermon. Opposition leaders in Tanzania say tolerance for dissent has been rapidly disappearing since Magufuli took office in late 2015 with pledges to reform East Africa’s third-biggest economy and crack down on large-scale corruption.

Tanzania’s constitution protects freedom of worship, but religious organisations must register at the country’s Home Affairs Ministry to get a license to operate legally.

“Any violation of the law could lead to cancellation of the registration of the concerned religious society,” he said in a statement. The warning was issued just days after the head of a Pentecostal church in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, criticised Magufuli’s leadership, saying his government was closing democratic space.

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