Zambian President Edgar Lungu on Monday pardoned 579 prisoners ahead of Africa Day, which falls annually on May 25.
The head of the country’s correctional service announced in Kabwe, 140 kilometers from the capital Lusaka, that this was in exercise of the president’s prerogative of mercy.
“The president’s action is in accordance with Article 97 of republican Constitution, which provides for presidential pardon and substitution of severe punishments imposed on convicted persons,” Chisela Chileshe said.
He added that the pardoned individuals had been rehabilitated and ready for reintegration in society.
This year’s theme of Africa Day, the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organization of African Unity (now African Union) on May 25, 1963, is Arts, Culture And Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want.
It is celebrated in various countries on the African continent as well as around the world.
Zambia gained independence from Britain a year after the OAU, and is considered a continental peace haven, having helped many countries gain independence from colonial rule.
Lungu is expected to lay a wreath at the Freedom Statue and graves of deceased heads of state, and host an investiture ceremony to honor freedom fighters at the State House in Lusaka.