Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera has pardoned a former cabinet minister who was serving a five-year sentence after being convicted for abuse of office.

Uladi Mussa was sentenced in 2020 to six years in prison over corruption linked to the illegal issuing of passports.

His release was an act of mercy in the Easter season, Homeland Security Minister Ken Zikhale Ng’oma said.

Mr Mussa remains an influential politician in the country after serving as minister under four different presidents between 1994 and 2019.

His involvement in the passport scam was during the tenure of former President Joyce Banda.

In 2019, the US government imposed a travel ban against him and his spouse over his role in the scandal.

Mr Mussa was released together with 199 other convicts, who “committed minor offenses and have demonstrated good behaviour during their stay in prison”.

They include a driver who was arrested and charged last year after refusing to give way to President Chakwera’s convoy.