Wednesday, December 1

Political unrest in Solomon Islands for the third day in a row

Political unrest also shook the Pacific state of Solomon Islands on Friday. Looters roamed several quarters of the capital Honiara, setting fire to buildings and clearing shops, an AFP reporter reported today. Thousands of people, some armed with axes and knives, marched through business districts as well as through the districts of China Town and Point Cruz.

In China Town, the crowd set a warehouse on fire, causing an explosion and displacing numerous people. There were also reports of a tobacco warehouse on fire. Clouds of smoke enveloped the capital in acrid haze.

Resignation of the head of government called for

The violent protests flared up on Wednesday. The protesters are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare. Police fired tear gas and warning shots today to prevent looters from storming Sogavare’s private residence.

At Sogavare’s request, Australia and Papua New Guinea sent security forces to calm the situation in the island nation. The head of government had blamed foreign powers for the unrest. These powers are against his pursuing a China-friendly course and no longer recognizing Taiwan as an independent state since 2019.

Ongoing rivalry

Another cause of the protests is the long-standing rivalry between the most populous island of Malaita and the central government on the island of Guadalcanal. The head of the provincial government of Malaita, Daniel Suidani, accused Sogavare of “placing the interests of foreigners above those of the Solomon Islands”.

The group of islands with a population of around 700,000 and located 2,000 kilometers northeast of Australia in the Pacific was sunk in violence between different ethnic groups in the early 2000s. A peacekeeping force led by Australia was stationed in the Solomon Islands between 2003 and 2017.

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