Bunjumbura - Burundi's government has started releasing scores of prisoners, including some accused of endangering state security, following a clemency order issued by President Pierre Nkurunziza.
Justice Minister Aimee Laurentine Kanyana says a total of 2 500 prisoners are expected to be released.
Kanyana calls the release "a surprise gift that the head of state is offering" in the spirit of national reconciliation.
Kanyana says that among those benefiting from the clemency are 58 members of the opposition MSD party, whose leader Alexis Sinduhije is in exile.
Many of those due to be released had been sentenced to jail terms of under five years and had served most of their terms.
Burundi has been wracked by violence since April 2015, when Nkurunziza announced he would seek a disputed third term.