- Associated Press - Friday, March 15, 2019

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) - Nicaragua’s government said Friday it has released 50 opposition prisoners and placed them under a form of house arrest.

The Interior Department said Friday the prisoners face charges of crimes against “the common security” or “public peace.”

The release was an apparent bow to a demand by the opposition Civic Alliance for freeing inmates as a condition for resuming political talks which had been suspended. The opposition coalition had demanded the immediate and definitive release of about 770 people considered political prisoners.

Pablo Cuevas, a lawyer for the Permanent Human Rights Commission, said the government had promised to free “an appreciable number” of prisoners, but that the 50 released Friday “were not what we expected.”

The government said it would not allow an opposition march planned for Saturday to demand the release of all the prisoners.

The current round of talks started Feb. 27, when the government released 112 prisoners.

According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, at least 325 people were killed last year amid a crackdown on protests demanding President Daniel Ortega leave office.

The government has since largely banned opposition demonstrations and shuttered some independent media outlets and NGOs. It has also refused to concede early elections, a key opposition demand.

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