NAYPYIDAW // Myanmar's president blocked the Organisation of the Islamic Conference from opening an office in the country, an official said yesterday.
The announcement came amid large rallies against the OIC's efforts to help Muslims in the country's Rakhine state, where clashes between Buddhists and Muslims left dozens dead and forced tens of thousands to seek refuge in temporary shelters in June.
"The president will not allow an OIC office because it is not in accordance with the people's desires," said an official from Thein Sein's office, after thousands of monks held the latest protests against the OIC in two major cities today.
The official, who asked not to be named, declined to comment on an agreement signed with the OIC, the top world Muslim body, which confirmed last week that it had obtained the green light to open an office in the country.
About 3,000 maroon-robed clerics, some shouting and holding banners reading "No OIC", marched through the country's commercial hub Yangon.
Thousands more protested in the second-largest city Mandalay, with another demonstration in the town of Pakokku in Magway region, according to organisers.
"We cannot accept any OIC office here," Oattamathara, a monk leading the Mandalay protest, said. "Not a temporary office and not a permanent office."