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Zimbabwe's  Independent <i>Daily News</i> Newspaper Stops Publishing

Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper, The Daily News, stopped publishing Friday, following the Supreme Court ruling that says publishing without a proper license is a crime.

Journalists at The Daily News went to the government appointed Media and Information Commission Friday to collect application forms for registration as journalists. Until now most of the newspaper's reporters considered the Zimbabwe's media law unconstitutional and did not apply for licenses.

But on Thursday a majority of the Supreme Court ruled that the controversial media laws, which make it illegal for journalists to work without a license, did not violate the constitution. Those working without a license face up to two years in jail.

The government shut down The Daily News last September, and police blocked its offices and seized its equipment. The move came after the media commission denied the newspaper a license to operate. It resumed publishing on January 22 after a series of court battles.

Launched four years ago, The Daily News became a vocal critic of President Robert Mugabe's government. While its readership grew, its journalists have been repeatedly arrested, beaten and harassed.

The enactment of the media law, which imposes strict government controls on who can practice journalism, followed Mr. Mugabe's controversial re-election in 2002. Since then, the government has been accused of curtailing constitutional rights and cracking down on political dissent.

The latest high court ruling has left many journalists working for domestic and foreign media in Zimbabwe in a dilemma. Most have applied for a government licenses, but are yet to be granted accreditation.