President Thein Sein, Myanmar's outgoing leader, lifted a nearly four-year curfew in the western state of Rakhine where clashes between the minority Rohingya Muslims and majority Buddhists left more than 200 people dead.

Thein Sein made the last-minute decision to lift the night-time curfew on the recommendation of the state government, which felt it was no longer necessary, state media reported on Tuesday.

"It is found from the report by the Rakhine state government that the situation in Rakhine state can no longer pose dangers to the lives and property of the people," said the ordinance signed by Thein Sein.


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Thein Sein's presidential term ends on Wednesday, when the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, the National League for Democracy, takes over power following a landslide victory last November.   

The curfew in Rakhine State was imposed in June 2012 after deadly clashes displaced more than 100,000 people, mostly Rohingya, in addition to the loss of life.

There has been no major violence between the Rohingya and the Buddhist majority in the state in the past two years. 

Widespread discrimination

Rakhine state is home to most of Myanmar's 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims, who live largely in abject poverty while facing widespread discrimination, not only by the Buddhist majority but also by the government.

Myanmar does not recognise Rohingya Muslims as citizens and describes them as immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh, although the Rohingyas say they have lived in Myanmar for generations.

Source: Agencies