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Myanmar frees 44 political prisoners

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Myanmar on Wednesday freed 44 political detainees, a presidential adviser said, the latest in a series of prisoner amnesties by the country's reformist regime.

"In total 44 political prisoners have been released around the country today," Hla Maung Shwe told AFP.

President Thein Sein has pledged to release all prisoners of conscience in Myanmar by the end of the year.

The former general, who took power in March 2011, has earned plaudits and the removal of most western sanctions for reforms that have included freeing hundreds of critics detained under the previous junta.

Under his leadership, the nation has undergone dramatic changes including the election of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.

But activists say authorities continue to prosecute dissidents.

They accuse the government of using the headline-grabbing prisoner releases for political gain and leverage with the international community.

The latest amnesty came as foreign dignitaries gathered in Myanmar's capital for the opening ceremony of the Southeast Asian Games.

hla/dr/ac

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131211/myanmar-frees-44-political-prisoners