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Blantyre - Malawi’s new President Peter Mutharika pardoned 403 prisoners on Saturday, ahead of celebrations to mark 50 years since the country gained independence from Britain.
“The pardon of the prisoners is a symbol of forgiveness as the country commemorates its golden jubilee of independence on Sunday,” the Home Affairs ministry said.
Those pardoned “have served at least half of their prison sentences, with good behaviour, and were not convicted of serious offences”.
The pardoning of prisoners is common in Malawi during independence celebrations, as well as at Easter and at Christmas.
In 2008, former president Joyce Banda released 377 prisoners to mark the 48th anniversary of independence.
Mutharika defeated Banda in the May elections, and has vowed to root out corruption in Malawi, which is among the world’s poorest countries.
The country’s 23 prisons are notorious for the poor conditions in which inmates are kept.