Tension is rising in the Solomon Islands: Australia will send peacekeeping forces, as announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, after two days of violent uprisings that have threatened to overthrow the local government. “Our aim is to provide stability and security,” Morrison said, stating that he had received a request for help from the Prime Minister of the Manasseh Islands Sogavare. The situation is incandescent: several buildings were set on fire in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, numerous witnesses said, and thousands of protesters stormed the city’s Chinatown, demanding the resignation of the prime minister.
Witnesses and local media say that a crowd that defied the curfew, imposed following the riots the day before, to take to the streets. Live footage showed buildings on fire and a thick plume of black smoke rising above the capital. “There are crowds on the move, the climate is very tense,” a resident of Honiara told AFP, while local media reported looting. Police used tear gas. Shortly before, the prime minister of the Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, said that those responsible “will be brought to justice. Nobody is above the law, these people will have to face the consequences of their actions ”.
Hundreds of people demanding Sogavare’s resignation marched back to parliament, burning a nearby thatched hut before moving into Honiara’s Chinatown, setting fire to a police station and looting shops before police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. Sogavare had ordered an immediate curfew throughout Honiara. “The 36-hour lockdown will allow law enforcement to thoroughly investigate the perpetrators of today’s events and prevent further illegal property destruction,” he said in a statement. The violence reportedly involved a group of protesters who traveled to Honiara from neighboring Malaita Island this week to protest the 2019 decision to move diplomatic alliances from Taiwan to China.