As riots erupt in the Solomon Islands, Australia deploys peacekeepers.


As riots erupt in the Solomon Islands, Australia deploys peacekeepers.

Australia dispatched police and military peacekeepers to the Solomon Islands on Thursday to put an end to two days of riots that engulfed the capital and threatened to overthrow the government.

At the request of his Solomons counterpart Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister Scott Morrison authorized the quick deployment. Protesters have demanded that Sogavare resign.

Thousands defied a government lockdown order on Thursday, torching a number of structures in Honiara’s Chinatown quarter, including commercial properties and a bank branch.

By sunset, the Honiara skyline was studded with blazes, and plumes of dense black smoke billowed high above the city.

It came after significant commotion in Honiara on Wednesday, when activists tried to storm parliament and overthrow Sogavare, a pro-Beijing leader who has become a flashpoint for inter-island enmity.

Unlike Canberra’s previous peacekeeping operation to the Solomons, which lasted from 2003 to 2017, Morrison said the Australian deployment was immediate and expected to last “a couple of weeks.”

“The Australian government has no intention of interfering in the Solomon Islands’ internal problems; that is for them to resolve,” he said. “We’re here to give stability and security,” says the narrator. The deployment, according to Morrison, will involve little over 100 federal police officers and soldiers.

The Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) was Australia’s previous peacekeeping mission, which was deployed in 2003 and cost around US$2.2 billion over 14 years.

Canberra claimed it was necessary to prevent the Solomon Islands from becoming a “failed state,” but critics say it dragged on far too long since no clear exit strategy was implemented.

Businesses run by Honiara’s Chinese community have been robbed and destroyed in the latest round of civil upheaval, leading Beijing’s ambassador to express “serious concerns” to the Solomons’ administration.

In a statement, the embassy claimed it “expressed representations for the Solomon Islands to take all necessary measures to strengthen the protection of Chinese firms and people.”

Sogavare asserted that his administration still had control of the 660,000-strong nation, which is located 1,200 kilometers northeast of Australia.

“Today, I come before you to assure you that our country is safe — your government remains in place and will continue to lead our country,” he said, adding that those responsible “shall face the full force of the law.”

Following their failure to break into parliament on Wednesday, the rioters reassembled the next day, ransacking a police station, according to a nearby resident.

According to the individual, who did not want to be identified, The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.


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