U.N. welcomes Myanmar prisoner release

UNITED NATIONS, July 24 (UPI) -- A decision by the Myanmar government to release dozens of political prisoners should add strength to its reform agenda, the U.N. secretary-general said.

Myanmar President Thein Sein freed 73 political prisoners Tuesday. More than 600 were released last year as part of a political reform effort, which began with general elections in 2010.


The country's president was a general in the former military regime.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement Tuesday through his spokesman's office expressing his support for advancing the reform agenda.

"He hopes that these and other measures undertaken recently in the country's transition to democracy will further strengthen efforts toward a comprehensive nationwide cease-fire and national reconciliation in Myanmar," his statement said.

Myanmar earned praise for reforms enacted since 2010. Former prisoner and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi secured a seat in Parliament two years after she was freed from house arrest.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Myanmar said at least 80 political prisoners remain behind bars in the country.

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