Blantyre, Malawi (PANA) - As part of ceremonies marking Malawi's 48 years of independence from Great Britain, President Joyce Banda has pardoned 377 prisoners.
"With powers vested upon me, I pardon 377 prisoners," Banda said at special prayers marking the day.
Banda, however, said she had refused to pardon critically ill prisoners who are serving time for defiling young girls.
"One of them has serious liver problem but we will bury him if need be because he knowingly doomed the future of a young girl he raped repeatedly," she said.
Malawi gained independence from Great Britain in 1964 after 70 years as a British protectorate.
Previously, the day used to be celebrated with a big event in the commercial capital, Blantyre, followed by nationwide parties but Banda, who took over power on 7 April following the sudden death from cardiac arrest of President Bingu wa Mutharika, ordered a low-key event because government was broke.
"There is no money for celebrations," she said.
Apart from the prayers, the other event marking the day will be a football match between Malawi's Flames and the African champions, Chipolopolo of Zambia.
-0- PANA RT/VAO 6July2012