Zambia's government has closed the country's largest independently 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 after 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.