Yangon: Myanmar's President has approved a new law allowing citizens to request permission to stage peaceful protests for the first time.

Demonstrations of any kind were previously banned in the traditionally repressive nation, where authorities have cracked down hard on anti-government protests.

The new law says anyone planning a protest must request approval five days beforehand from police, who can deny permission but must explain the reason why.

The move is the latest reform undertaken by the nominally civilian government since it took power from a military junta earlier this year.

State media reported on Saturday that President Thein Sein signed the legislation a day earlier, as US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton ended a three-day visit.