Witnesses report further rioting in Honiara, Solomon Islands’ capital.
Witnesses reported further riots erupted in Honiara, the Solomon Islands’ capital, on Thursday, a day after demonstrators attempted to assault parliament and overthrow Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.
A Honiara resident told AFP that protesters disobeyed a lockdown imposed in the aftermath of Wednesday’s unrest and took to the streets again, this time targeting police and businesses in the capital’s Chinatown neighborhood.
Police had created barriers, according to the man, who did not want to be identified, but the rioting showed no signs of abating more than 24 hours after it erupted outside parliament.
As local media reported looting and police employing tear gas, a resident told AFP, “There are crowds going around, it’s really tense.”
Other witnesses shared photographs of smoke billowing from the capital on social media, claiming that Chinese-owned companies were being targeted.
Several hundred rioters set fire to structures, including a police station, and looted stores after marching on parliament to demand Sogavare’s resignation on Wednesday.
Sogavare imposed an emergency curfew throughout Honiara, calling the violence a “sad and regrettable event aimed at toppling a democratically elected government.”
Those involved, according to Sogavare, “shall be brought to justice and will face the full force of the law.”
The majority of Honiara’s demonstrators are said to be from Malaita, a neighboring island.
People on the island have long grumbled about government neglect and have been vocal in their opposition to the Solomon Islands’ intention in 2019 to switch diplomatic allegiances from Taiwan to China.
Matthew Wale, the leader of the opposition, called for Sogavare to resign, claiming that a police-enforced lockdown would not be enough to stop the disturbance.
“Unfortunately, people’s frustrations and pent-up resentment at the prime minister are overflowing out onto the streets, where opportunists have exploited the already serious and deteriorating situation,” he said in a statement obtained by AFP.
“The 36-hour lockdown is just another reactionary response that isn’t going to solve the problem.”