President Magufuli bans registration of foreign ships in Tanzania
He ordered over 400 vessels to be investigated for allegations of involvement in criminal activity.
The ban came after at least five foreign-owned ships flying Tanzania's flag were seized in various parts of the world carrying illegal consignments of weapons and narcotics.
The maritime authority in the Indian Ocean archipelago of Zanzibar has in previous years been accused of allowing Iranian and North Korean vessels to use the Tanzanian flag to circumvent United Nations sanctions. Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous territory of Tanzania.
"He (Magufuli) issued the instructions... following reports on the seizure of narcotics in at least five vessels flying the Tanzanian flag," the Tanzanian president's office said in a statement.
Tanzania said in 2012 that a shipping agent based in Dubai had reflagged 36 Iranian oil tankers with its flag without the country's knowledge and approval and de-registered the vessels after an investigation.
North Korea is subject to international sanctions imposed over its nuclear programme.
Sanctions on Iran linked to its nuclear programme were lifted in January 2016, though some of its vessels often operate under other flags for reasons of convenience. ■