Civil Unrest Rocks Solomon Islands As Rioters Torch Government Buildings
Social unrest rocked the capital of the Solomon Islands for the second day as anti-government demonstrators defied lockdown orders and burned government buildings.
A lockdown was declared Wednesday after more than 1,000 rioters gathered in Honiara, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare over foreign diplomatic issues. There was no word on what exactly sparked the outburst of violence and or why now.
Australia said it will deploy more than 100 police and military personnel to the Solomon Islands as protesters in the Pacific nation defied a government-imposed lockdown and set fire to buildings in the capital Honiara for a second day https://t.co/RuYqDZcVWI pic.twitter.com/DEH0eEjlHZ
— Reuters (@Reuters) November 25, 2021
According to WaPo, dark black smoke filled the sky above Honiara on Thursday after rioters torched Parliament and several other government buildings.
Here’s another aerial view of the fires.
Increasing discontent over Sogavare’s unpopular switch of diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to China in 2019 appears to be why rioters are upset this week.
The situation continued to worsen as the prime minister made an emergency assistance request to neighboring Australia. About 120 soldiers and police officers from Australia will be arriving on Friday.
“Our purpose here is to provide stability and security to enable the normal constitutional processes in the Solomon Islands.
“It is not the Australian government’s intention in any way to intervene in the internal affairs of the Solomon Islands. That is for them to resolve.
“We have always been there to help our Pacific family when they have needed us, and this is such a time,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in a news conference Thursday.
Dozens of Townsville troops are preparing for deployment to the Solomon Islands as civil unrest boils over in the nation’s capital. Protesters have been demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister over diplomatic ties with China. https://t.co/b2rkakPwmk #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/g94ctJYbmQ
— 7NEWS Mackay (@7NewsMackay) November 25, 2021
Mihai Sora, a former Australian diplomat to Honiara from 2012 to 2014, told WaPo that rapid deterioration in the capital “came as a surprise to many.”
“If Australia hesitated, if they took days or weeks to consider a response, the situation may have deteriorated to such a low point where recovery would have been difficult,” Sora said.
In comments to ABC, Sogavare rejected criticism in ending relations with Taiwan in favor of Beijing.
The crisis “is influenced and encouraged by other powers,” he warned.
“These very countries that are now influencing Malaita [the main island of the nation] are the countries that don’t want ties with the People’s Republic of China,” Sogavare continued.
Hmm, we wonder who the “other powers” are influencing rioters to force the government to have distant ties with China.
Fri, 11/26/2021 – 11:40