Yangon:Dozens of protesters marched in Yangon today against a law giving voting rights to Myanmar's temporary citizens, including hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya, as parliament's speaker referred the fiery issue to a constitutional tribunal.
Controversy over people holding limited citizenship rights in Myanmar's complex national identification system spilled onto the streets after a bill granting them the right to vote in referendums was enacted yesterday.
The issue has ignited indignation among some Buddhists in restive Rakhine state, where around half a million Rohingya Muslims are estimated to hold "white cards", a temporary identification document.
"If those given the right to vote don't pay respect to Myanmar's flag, then we will have a failure of sovereignty," said Nyi Nyi Maung, a Rakhine Buddhist who had joined monks and other protesters in Yangon today.
Parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann, who is also the head of the ruling party, said he had asked the constitutional tribunal to look into the matter, adding that the law could still be amended.
"I worry that the heated public debate might disturb the integration of ethnic minorities, national reconciliation and peace," he told reporters in the capital Naypyidaw on Wednesday.
Violence between Buddhists and Muslims tore through Rakhine in 2012, leaving over 200 people dead and sparkling outbreaks of religious violence across the country, overshadowing its democratic transition.
Many of Myanmar's roughly 1.3 million Rohingya are stateless and subject to a tangle of restrictions that affect everything from their ability to travel and work to the permitted size of their families.