Malawi President Peter Mutharika has spreed Christmas cheers to prison by granting "Christmas clemency", pardoning 644 prisoners in the country's overcrowded jails under an amnesty to mark Christmas and New Year Celebrations.
Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security said in Lilongwe the 282 pardoned prisoners are those serving sentence of three years and below who had served at least half of their sentences and had behaved well during their incarceration, or had not convicted of serious offences .
Mutharika has reduced the sentences of 362 prisoners by six month, the ministry said.
"The prisoners who have been pardoned and reduced sentences are those who are charged with minor offence and have demonstrated good behavioural reform or are chronically ill," it said in a statement.
Malawi's 34 prisons, home to about 12,000 inmates, are battling severe overcrowding, which many blame on courts ordering jail sentences for minor offences.
Party in Mzuzu
Meanwhile, as part of Christmas celebration, the President and the First Lady Gertrude Mutharika on Wednesday hosted a party for children at the State Lodge in Mzuzu.
Addressing the children who were drawn from a cross section of churches in the city, President Mutharika urged the children to work hard in school so that they are able to take up different public positions, including that of state presidency, in the future.
"Have humanity. Respect your parents, your friends and all people," Mutharika advised.
Amongst activities during the Christmas party was the First Citizen's engagement in an interaction with the children during the question-and-answer time.
Speaking on behalf of the children, Mama Mwafulirwa commended the First Couple for hosting the Christmas party for the children in Mzuzu.