Capital Rioters ‘Will Face Consequences,’ Solomons PM warns.


Capital Rioters ‘Will Face Consequences,’ Solomons PM warns.

As the Pacific island nation’s capital Honiara remained under lockdown Thursday following the unrest, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare promised to track down rioters who attempted to storm parliament.

Hundreds of demonstrators demanding Sogavare’s resignation marched to parliament on Wednesday, torching a thatched hut outside the legislature before continuing on to Honiara’s Chinatown, torching a police station and robbing shops before being dispersed by police using tear gas.

Sogavare imposed an emergency curfew throughout Honiara, calling the violence a “sad and regrettable event aimed at toppling a democratically elected government.”

“The 36-hour lockdown will allow law enforcement agencies to adequately investigate the perpetrators of today’s acts and prevent further lawless property destruction,” he said late Wednesday in a statement.

A group of demonstrators from the neighboring island of Malaita apparently traveled to Honiara this week and were part in the violence.

Their complaints are thought to stem from a sense of neglect by the central government, as well as residual displeasure with the Solomon Islands’ decision to switch diplomatic allegiances from Taiwan to China in 2019.

Many villages in Malaita have developed strong relationships with Taipei, and the island’s local government has regularly expressed displeasure with the island’s embrace of China, refusing to accept Beijing-funded aid initiatives.

Inter-island tensions sparked unrest, prompting the deployment of an Australian-led peacekeeping force in the 660,000-strong nation 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) northeast of Australia from 2003 to 2017.

Following general elections in 2006, violence erupted, with much of Honiara’s Chinatown being leveled over allegations that businessmen with ties to Beijing corrupted the vote.

Those involved in the recent unrest, according to Sogavare, were “guided astray” by unscrupulous persons.

“Hundreds of folks took the law into their own hands today,” he continued. They were hell-bent on destroying our country and… the growing trust among our people.

“However, I stand before you now to assure you that our country is safe; your government is in place and continues to rule our country.”

Those involved, according to Sogavare, “shall be brought to justice and will face the full force of the law.”

“No one is above the law,” he added, adding that “these people will face the repercussions of their acts.”


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