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President of Myanmar Prepared to Use Force to Quell Riots
Thein Sein, the President of Myanmar, said on Thursday that the government is prepared to use force is needed to end the deadly religious riots occurring in multiple areas since last week, according to The Associated Press.
Sein was making his first public comments about the violence when he spoke on television. In his speech, Sein said he would make legal efforts to stop “political opportunists and religious extremists.”
The current unrest started on March 20 when Buddhists began rioting that targeted minority Muslims in Meikhtila. Some 40 people were killed and 12,000 had to flee their homes. This week, the violence spread to multiple towns north of Yangon.
“In general, I do not endorse the use of force to solve problems. However, I will not hesitate to use force as a last resort to protect the lives and safeguard the property of the general public,” said Thein Sein. “We must expect these conflicts and difficulties to arise during our period of democratic transition.”
Sein asked the police in the country to “perform their duties decisively, bravely and within the constraint of the constitution and by-laws.” The officers in Meikhtila received criticism for not acting quick enough to stop the riots. The riots caused stores, houses and mosques to be burned to the ground.
Sein said that authorities “did not resort to the use of force immediately mainly because we do not want to let anything happen to our ongoing democratic transition and reform efforts.”President of Myanmar Prepared to Use Force to Quell Riots by Jim Vassallo