Tunisia's interim president Fouad Mebazza signed a general amnesty for political prisoners on Saturday in a move to smooth the way to elections this year, state media said.
The amnesty was promised less than a week after a wave of protests forced former leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country in mid-January, but had not yet been ratified.
"The government is hoping that this law will finally end an era of repression and provide the right conditions for the election," the state media report said.
Human rights groups estimate Tunisia has about 1,000 political prisoners following Ben Ali's 23 years in power, during which he outlawed an opposition Islamist movement and cracked down on dissenters.
Many Tunisian families have been waiting for weeks for the release of relatives, with many camping out outside the main prisons.
The government so far has released some 3,000 people imprisoned by the Ben Ali regime, though most are believed to have been petty criminals serving over-long sentences, as opposed to being political prisoners.
AgenciesLast Mod: 20 Şubat 2011, 14:57