President Paul Biya's decree has not been directly connected to the coronavirus pandemic

Prisoners are being released in Cameroon after President Paul Biya reduced their sentences in a decree announced on Wednesday.

The decree did not say whether it was related to coronavirus but it takes effect immediately.

It reduced death sentences to life in prison, while those serving life sentences will now serve 25 years.

Prisoners jailed on terrorism-related charges and separatists are not eligible for commuted sentences. Others who are ineligible include those convicted for corruption, fraud, rape, torture and drug trafficking.

President Biya has been criticised locally for his silence over the spread of coronavirus – with confirmed cases at 848, including 17 deaths – in the country.

Opposition politician Maurice Kamto wants a court to declare a power vacuum owing to the president’s silence, Bloomberg website reports