Myanmar President Thein Sein has vowed that his government will do everything it can to protect the rights of Muslims living in the predominantly Buddhist nation.

Thein Sein made the promise Monday amid fears that sectarian violence between Muslims and Buddhists could spread further after edging close to the main city of Yangon last week.

The Myanmar leader also called on citizens "to stand up to hatred," saying some people have abused their newfound right of free speech and fueled religious conflict.

Thein Sein also said his administration will implement the recommendations of a government-appointed commission established to investigate sectarian violence in western Myanmar's Rakhine state.

The commission proposed doubling the number of security forces there and introducing family planning programs to stem population growth among Muslims.