Thugs ignore curfew in Solomon Islands as prime minister faces call to withdraw | Political News

With the escalation of inter-island tensions, the riots shook the capital for the second day in a row, and the rioters apparently targeted Chinatown businesses.

On Thursday, riots broke out in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. Protesters set fire to buildings in the city’s Chinatown, and the Pacific island nation’s anger continued to spread.

The protesters ignored the 36-hour curfew imposed after the unrest in the capital on Wednesday, when the demonstrators tried to storm the parliament and force Prime Minister Manasiso Gavare to step down.

Images shared on social media showed that smoke billowed from buildings in Honiara less than halfway through the blockade, and the rioters regrouped and targeted the Chinatown area of ​​Honiara again.

A local resident told AFP that they also ransacked a police station.

The man, who asked not to be named, said the police had set up roadblocks, but the riot showed no signs of abating.

Stores, offices and businesses were set on fire during Wednesday’s riots [Stewart K via Reuters]

“There were mobs walking around and they were very nervous,” the resident said, as local media reported robberies and police use of tear gas.

According to reports, most of the protesters in the city came from the neighboring island of Malaita, and people have long complained about the central government’s neglect.

The local government of the island also strongly opposes the decision of the Solomon government to shift diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China in 2019. The move was planned by Sogavare. Critics said it had too close a relationship with Beijing and led to a referendum on independence last year. The national government has rejected it as illegal.

‘Repressed anger’

Honiara’s lockdown plan will last until 7 o’clock on Friday morning.

Sogavare said in a speech on Wednesday night that this will “allow our law enforcement agencies to fully investigate the perpetrators of today’s incident and prevent further lawless destruction.”

The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) urged people in and around Honiara to stay at home.

Opposition leader Matthew Weir called on the prime minister to resign, saying that frustration with the controversial decision he made during his tenure led to violence.

Will said in a statement: “It is regrettable that the people’s frustration and repressed anger towards the prime minister is spreading uncontrollably to the streets, and opportunists have taken advantage of the already serious and deteriorating situation.”

Similar inter-island competition led to the deployment of an Australian-led peacekeeping force in the Solomon Islands between 2003 and 2017, and Canberra and Wellington may pay close attention to the developing situation.

After the 2006 general election, riots broke out, and most of Honiara’s Chinatown was razed to the ground because of rumors that companies linked to Beijing rigged the vote.

Sogavare said that those involved in the recent unrest were “led astray” by immoral people.

“To be honest, I thought we had passed the darkest days in our country’s history, but… [these] The incident is a painful reminder that we still have a long way to go,” he said.

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