Congo's justice minister has announced pardons for 24 people whom opposition parties have considered to be political prisoners.

Alexis Thambwe Mwamba made the declaration Friday. The minister also lifted a ban on two television stations associated with the opposition.

The U.N. human rights chief, visiting Congo last month, called for the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience to help foster a peaceful election climate.

The opposition had called for the release of political prisoners so they could participate in a national dialogue on elections that are supposed to be held in November, though they likely will be postponed. The opposition has expressed concern that President Joseph Kabila wants to remain in power beyond his mandate.