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World Solomon Islands violence recedes but not underlying tension

11:40  26 november  2021
11:40  26 november  2021 Source:   msn.com

Protesters defy government lockdown order in Solomon Islands

  Protesters defy government lockdown order in Solomon Islands CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Demonstrators in the Solomon Islands defied government lockdown orders to take to the streets for a second day Thursday in violent protests. Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had declared the lockdown Wednesday after about 1,000 people gathered in protest in the capital Honiara demanding his resignation over a host of domestic issues, according to local media reports. The protesters breached the National Parliament building and burned the thatched roof of a nearby building, the government said. They also set fire to a police station and other buildings. “They were intent on destroying our nation and ...

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Violence receded Friday in the capital of the Solomon Islands, but the government showed no signs of addressing the underlying grievances that sparked two days of riots, including concerns about the country's increasing links with China.

A building burns in Chinatown, Honiara, Solomon Islands, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Violence receded in the capital of the Solomon Islands, but the government showed no signs of attempting to address the underlying grievances that sparked two days of riots, including concerns of the country's increasing links with China. (AP Photo/Piringi Charley) © Provided by Associated Press A building burns in Chinatown, Honiara, Solomon Islands, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Violence receded in the capital of the Solomon Islands, but the government showed no signs of attempting to address the underlying grievances that sparked two days of riots, including concerns of the country's increasing links with China. (AP Photo/Piringi Charley)

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare sought to deflect attention from domestic issues by blaming outside interference for stirring up the protesters, with a thinly veiled reference to Taiwan and the United States.

Honiara, Solomon Islands: Australia defense personnel dispatched as violent protests continue for second day

  Honiara, Solomon Islands: Australia defense personnel dispatched as violent protests continue for second day Australia is deploying police and defense personnel to support authorities in the Solomon Islands, as violent protests continued for a second day in the capital, Honiara on Thursday, despite a 36-hour lockdown being imposed. © Georgina Kekea via Reuters Protesters gather outside Parliament in Honiara, Solomon Islands, on November 24, 2021. Demonstrators from the country's most populous island, Malaita, had traveled to the capital in a spillover of anger about a host of domestic issues including unrealized infrastructure promises, media reported. They demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogevare.

External pressures were a “very big ... influence. I don’t want to name names. We’ll leave it there,” Sogavare said.

Debris lies on the street outside damaged shops in Chinatown, Honiara, Solomon Islands, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Violence receded in the capital of the Solomon Islands, but the government showed no signs of attempting to address the underlying grievances that sparked two days of riots, including concerns of the country's increasing links with China (AP Photo/Piringi Charley) © Provided by Associated Press Debris lies on the street outside damaged shops in Chinatown, Honiara, Solomon Islands, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Violence receded in the capital of the Solomon Islands, but the government showed no signs of attempting to address the underlying grievances that sparked two days of riots, including concerns of the country's increasing links with China (AP Photo/Piringi Charley)

Honiara’s Chinatown and its downtown precinct were focuses of rioters, looters and protesters who demanded the resignation of Sogavare, who has intermittently been prime minister since 2000.

Sogavare has been widely criticized by leaders of the country's most populous island of Malaita for a 2019 decision to drop diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of mainland China. His government, meanwhile, has been upset over millions in U.S. aid promised directly to Malaita, rather than through the central government.

Australia sends forces to Solomon Islands where protesters set fire to Parliament and Chinatown

  Australia sends forces to Solomon Islands where protesters set fire to Parliament and Chinatown Australian forces are being deployed to the nearby Solomon Islands as protests stretched into a second day, even after a 36-hour lockdown was imposed, and frustration boils over in the capital of Honiara over a host of domestic grievances. © Provided by Washington Examiner Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised to send roughly 120 soldiers and police officers for "a matter of weeks" to help quell the unrest that resulted in fires being set at Parliament and buildings in Chinatown, according to the Washington Post.

FILE - Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister of Solomon Islands attends a Lowy Institute event in Sydney, Monday Aug. 14, 2017. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sogavare has blamed foreign interference over his government's decision to switch alliances from Taiwan to Beijing for anti-government protests, arson and looting that have ravaged the capital in recent days. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister of Solomon Islands attends a Lowy Institute event in Sydney, Monday Aug. 14, 2017. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sogavare has blamed foreign interference over his government's decision to switch alliances from Taiwan to Beijing for anti-government protests, arson and looting that have ravaged the capital in recent days. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)

Those issues are just the latest in decades of rivalry between Malaita and Guadalcanal, where the capital, Honiara, is located, said Jonathan Pryke, director of the Sydney-based Lowy Institute think tank's Pacific Islands program.

"Most of the drivers of the tension have been in the country for many decades and generations, and a lot of it is born out of the abject poverty of the country, the limited economic development opportunities and the inter-ethnic and inter-island rivalry between the two most populous islands," he said.

Solomon Islands protests: Violent protests continue for third day amid tensions with Malaita province

  Solomon Islands protests: Violent protests continue for third day amid tensions with Malaita province The Solomon Islands government has advised all public servants to stay at home as violent protests continued for a third day on Friday, with crowds gathering at the Prime Minister's residence.Honiara, the Solomon Islands capital, has been hit by civil unrest since Wednesday, with protests, looting and burning of shops and businesses. Defying a 36-hour curfew, thousands of demonstrators have come out onto the streets calling for Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare's resignation.

“So everyone's pointing fingers, but some fingers also need to be pointed at the political leaders of the Solomon Islands.”

The Solomon Islands, with a population of about 700,000, are located about 1,500 kilometers (1,000 miles) northeast of Australia. Internationally they are probably still best known for the bloody fighting that took place there during World War II between the United States and Japan.

FILE - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, left, and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare review an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sogavare has blamed foreign interference over his government's decision to switch alliances from Taiwan to Beijing for anti-government protests, arson and looting that have ravaged the capital in recent days. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, left, and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare review an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sogavare has blamed foreign interference over his government's decision to switch alliances from Taiwan to Beijing for anti-government protests, arson and looting that have ravaged the capital in recent days. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

Riots and looting erupted Wednesday out of a peaceful protest in Honiara, primarily of people from Malaita demonstrating over a number of grievances. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the demonstrators, who set fire to the National Parliament, a police station and many other buildings.

Solomon Islands protests: 3 burned bodies found in Chinatown in Honiara following days of unrest

  Solomon Islands protests: 3 burned bodies found in Chinatown in Honiara following days of unrest Three charred bodies have been found in a burned out building in the Chinatown district of the Solomon Islands' capital, Honiara -- the first reported fatalities after three days of violent protests that saw more than 100 people arrested. © Charley Piringi/AFP/Getty Images People walk through the Chinatown district of Honiara on the Solomon Islands on November 26. Police are investigating the cause of their death and their identities, and do not have further information to disclose at this point, Solomon Islands police media officer Desmond Rave told CNN on Saturday.

People walk through the looted streets of Chinatown in Honiara, Solomon Islands, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on Friday blamed foreign interference over his government’s decision to switch alliances from Taiwan to Beijing for anti-government protests, arson and looting that have ravaged the capital Honiara in recent days. (AP Photo/Piringi Charley) © Provided by Associated Press People walk through the looted streets of Chinatown in Honiara, Solomon Islands, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on Friday blamed foreign interference over his government’s decision to switch alliances from Taiwan to Beijing for anti-government protests, arson and looting that have ravaged the capital Honiara in recent days. (AP Photo/Piringi Charley)

Protesters defied a lockdown declared by Sogavare on Wednesday to take to the streets again on Thursday.

Critics also blamed the unrest on complaints of a lack of government services and accountability, corruption and Chinese businesses giving jobs to foreigners instead of locals.

People walk through the looted streets of Chinatown in Honiara, Solomon Islands, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on Friday blamed foreign interference over his government’s decision to switch alliances from Taiwan to Beijing for anti-government protests, arson and looting that have ravaged the capital Honiara in recent days. (AP Photo/Piringi Charley) © Provided by Associated Press People walk through the looted streets of Chinatown in Honiara, Solomon Islands, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on Friday blamed foreign interference over his government’s decision to switch alliances from Taiwan to Beijing for anti-government protests, arson and looting that have ravaged the capital Honiara in recent days. (AP Photo/Piringi Charley)

Since the 2019 shift in allegiance from Taiwan to China there has been an expectation of massive infrastructure investment from Beijing — locally rumored to be in the range of $500 million — but with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic shortly after the shift, none of that has yet materialized.

3 burned bodies found in Solomon Islands following days of violent protests

  3 burned bodies found in Solomon Islands following days of violent protests Three burned bodies were found in Australia's Solomon Islands after protests against the Pacific nation’s increasing links with China. Your browser does not support this video Australian media reported the bodies were recovered late Friday after riots and protests subsided. No other details were given. Authorities imposed a curfew in the capital Honiara, after a 36-hour lockdown ordered by the embattled Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare ended Friday.Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

People walk through the looted streets of Chinatown in Honiara, Solomon Islands, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on Friday blamed foreign interference over his government’s decision to switch alliances from Taiwan to Beijing for anti-government protests, arson and looting that have ravaged the capital Honiara in recent days. (AP Photo/Piringi Charley) © Provided by Associated Press People walk through the looted streets of Chinatown in Honiara, Solomon Islands, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on Friday blamed foreign interference over his government’s decision to switch alliances from Taiwan to Beijing for anti-government protests, arson and looting that have ravaged the capital Honiara in recent days. (AP Photo/Piringi Charley)

Malaita threatened to hold a referendum on independence over the issue, but that was quashed by Sogavare's government.

Sogavare said Friday that he stood by his government’s decision to embrace Beijing, which he described as the “only issue” in the violence, which was “unfortunately influenced and encouraged by other powers.”

“I’m not going to bow down to anyone. We are intact, the government’s intact and we’re going to defend democracy,” he said.

Police man a road block in Honiara, Solomon Islands, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Violence receded in the capital of the Solomon Islands, but the government showed no signs of attempting to address the underlying grievances that sparked two days of riots, including concerns of the country's increasing links with China (AP Photo/Piringi Charley) © Provided by Associated Press Police man a road block in Honiara, Solomon Islands, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Violence receded in the capital of the Solomon Islands, but the government showed no signs of attempting to address the underlying grievances that sparked two days of riots, including concerns of the country's increasing links with China (AP Photo/Piringi Charley)

More than broad geopolitical concerns, however, Pryke said the demonstrations really boiled down to frustration over the lack of opportunities for a largely young population, and the concentration of much of the country's wealth in the capital.

“I guarantee you the vast majority of the people involved in the rioting and looting couldn't point China or Taiwan out on a map,” he said. “They were there as opportunists because they have had very limited economic opportunity. It's a very poor country with high youth unemployment, and this just shows how quickly these things can spiral out of control in a country that's volatile.”

Solomon Islands province 'not happy' at Australian police presence - political aide

  Solomon Islands province 'not happy' at Australian police presence - political aide Solomon Islands province 'not happy' at Australian police presence - political aideSYDNEY (Reuters) - The Solomon Islands most populous province, the source of anti-government protestors who converged on the capital Honiara last week, is unhappy Australia sent in police and soldiers at the request of the Pacific island nation's prime minister, a provincial political aide told Reuters.

In this photo released by Australian Department of Defense, Australian Federal Police Special Operations members prepare to depart Canberra, Australia, for the Solomon Islands on a Royal Australian Air Force jet, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021. Australia says it is sending police, troops and diplomats to the Solomon Islands to help after anti-government demonstrators defied lockdown orders and took to the streets for a second day in violent protests. (LACW Jacqueline Forrester/Australian Department of Defense via AP) © Provided by Associated Press In this photo released by Australian Department of Defense, Australian Federal Police Special Operations members prepare to depart Canberra, Australia, for the Solomon Islands on a Royal Australian Air Force jet, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021. Australia says it is sending police, troops and diplomats to the Solomon Islands to help after anti-government demonstrators defied lockdown orders and took to the streets for a second day in violent protests. (LACW Jacqueline Forrester/Australian Department of Defense via AP)

A plane carrying Australian police and diplomats arrived late Thursday in Honiara to help local police restore order.

Up to 50 more Australian police as well 43 defense force personnel with a navy patrol boat were scheduled to arrive on Friday.

In this photo released by Australian Department of Defense, Australian Federal Police Special Operations members prepare to depart Canberra, Australia, for the Solomon Islands on a Royal Australian Air Force jet, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021. Australia says it is sending police, troops and diplomats to the Solomon Islands to help after anti-government demonstrators defied lockdown orders and took to the streets for a second day in violent protests. (LACW Jacqueline Forrester/Australian Department of Defense via AP) © Provided by Associated Press In this photo released by Australian Department of Defense, Australian Federal Police Special Operations members prepare to depart Canberra, Australia, for the Solomon Islands on a Royal Australian Air Force jet, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021. Australia says it is sending police, troops and diplomats to the Solomon Islands to help after anti-government demonstrators defied lockdown orders and took to the streets for a second day in violent protests. (LACW Jacqueline Forrester/Australian Department of Defense via AP)

They were requested by Sogavare under a bilateral treaty with Australia, and the presence of an independent force, though small, seemed to help quell some of the violence.

In this photo released by Australian Department of Defense, Australian Federal Police Special Operations members prepare to depart Canberra, Australia, for the Solomon Islands Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021. Australia says it is sending police, troops and diplomats to the Solomon Islands to help after anti-government demonstrators defied lockdown orders and took to the streets for a second day in violent protests. (LACW Jacqueline Forrester/Australian Department of Defense via AP) © Provided by Associated Press In this photo released by Australian Department of Defense, Australian Federal Police Special Operations members prepare to depart Canberra, Australia, for the Solomon Islands Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021. Australia says it is sending police, troops and diplomats to the Solomon Islands to help after anti-government demonstrators defied lockdown orders and took to the streets for a second day in violent protests. (LACW Jacqueline Forrester/Australian Department of Defense via AP)

Australia has a history of assisting the Solomon Islands, stepping in after years of bloody ethnic violence known as “the tensions” in 2003. The Australian-led international police and military force called the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands helped restore the peace and left in 2017.

Riots in Solomon Islands: New Zealand sends peacekeeping forces

 Riots in Solomon Islands: New Zealand sends peacekeeping forces © Reuters - Stringer The peacekeeping force includes soldiers from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji Islands and Papua New Guinea. It must support Police of the Solomon Islands, here photographed in Honaria, November 26, 2021. Neo Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Wednesday 1 December the deployment of 65 soldiers and police officers in a force Peacekeeping by Australia in the Solomon Islands, after deadly riots that ravaged part of the capital, Honiara.

The Australian personnel are expected to be on hand for “a matter of weeks," according Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne.

Payne told reporters on Friday that she had no indication that other countries had stirred up the unrest.

“We have not indicated that at all,” Payne said.

Australia is not assisting in the protection of the National Parliament and the executive buildings, in a sign that it was not taking political sides.

“We’ve been very clear. Our view is we don’t want to see violence," Payne said. “We would very much hope for a return to stability."

Local journalist Gina Kekea said the foreign policy switch to Beijing with little public consultation was one of a mix of issues that led to the protests. There were also complaints that foreign companies were not providing local jobs.

“Chinese businesses and (other) Asian businesses ... seem to have most of the work, especially when it comes to extracting resources, which people feel strongly about,” Kekea said.

FILE - Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, addresses the United Nations General Assembly, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, at U.N. headquarters. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sogavare has blamed foreign interference over his government's decision to switch alliances from Taiwan to Beijing for anti-government protests, arson and looting that have ravaged the capital in recent days. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, addresses the United Nations General Assembly, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, at U.N. headquarters. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sogavare has blamed foreign interference over his government's decision to switch alliances from Taiwan to Beijing for anti-government protests, arson and looting that have ravaged the capital in recent days. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)

Protesters were replaced by looters and scavengers on Friday in Chinatown, Kekea said.

“It’s been two days, two whole days of looting and protesting and rioting and Honiara is just a small city,” Kekea said. The capital has 85,000 residents.

“So I think that there’s nothing much left for them to loot and spoil now,” she said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison questioned whether Chinese citizens and businesses were being targeted. He described the unrest as “a bit of a mixed story” and noted Chinatown was the scene of rioting before Australia’s 2003 intervention.

FILE - Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, left, walks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sogavare has blamed foreign interference over his government's decision to switch alliances from Taiwan to Beijing for anti-government protests, arson and looting that have ravaged the capital in recent days.(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, left, walks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sogavare has blamed foreign interference over his government's decision to switch alliances from Taiwan to Beijing for anti-government protests, arson and looting that have ravaged the capital in recent days.(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Friday condemned the violence and stressed Beijing's support for the Solomon Islands government. He said China was taking measures to safeguard the safety and rights of Chinese people and institutions in the country.

“We believe that under the leadership of Prime Minister Sogavare, the Solomon government can restore order and stabilize the internal situation as soon as possible,” he said.

The establishment of diplomatic ties with Beijing “has won sincere support of the people," and "any attempts to undermine the normal development of China-Solomon relations are futile,” Zhao said.

___

Rising reported from Bangkok.

Riots in Solomon Islands: New Zealand sends peacekeeping forces .
© Reuters - Stringer The peacekeeping force includes soldiers from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji Islands and Papua New Guinea. It must support Police of the Solomon Islands, here photographed in Honaria, November 26, 2021. Neo Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Wednesday 1 December the deployment of 65 soldiers and police officers in a force Peacekeeping by Australia in the Solomon Islands, after deadly riots that ravaged part of the capital, Honiara.

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