Since becoming president, Thein Sein took such measures for the first times. A state of emergency effectively allows the military to take over administrative functions for Rakhine State, a coastal region that borders Bangladesh, AP reported.
The move follows rioting on Friday in two Rakhine areas that state media say left at least seven people dead and 17 wounded, and saw hundreds of houses burned down. The unrest spread on Saturday and Sunday, though order was said to have been restored in the areas shaken by Friday’s violence.
Thein Sein said in his nine-minute national televised speech that the violence in Rakhine State was fanned by dissatisfaction harboured by different religious and ethnic groups, hatred and the desire for vengeance.
“If this endless anarchic vengeance and deadly acts continue, there is the danger of them spreading to other parts and being overwhelmed by subversive influences,” he said. “If that happens, it can severely affect peace and tranquillity and our nascent democratic reforms and the development of the country.”
The accounts in state media blamed Friday’s rioting in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships on 1,000 “terrorists,” but residents’ accounts made clear they were Muslims. The unrest seemed to be a reaction to the June 3 lynching of 10 Muslims by a crowd of 300 Buddhists. The lynch mob was apparently provoked by leaflets discussing the rape and murder last month of a Buddhist girl, allegedly by three Muslim men.