Solomon Islands Lockdown Over Violent Protests

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogevare of the Solomon Islands announced a 36-hour lockdown after the latest unrest on Wednesday.

“Our nation witnessed another sad and unfortunate event aimed at bringing a democratically elected government down,” Sogevare said, adding that the people involved in the protests had been “led astray” by unscrupulous people.

However, violent protests continued for a second day, setting fire to buildings in Chinatown and defying the 36-hour lockdown. 

On Wednesday, several hundred demonstrators torched buildings, including a police station, and looted stores after marching on parliament to demand Sogavare’s resignation.

People on the island have complained of neglect by the central government and strongly opposed the Solomons’ decision to switch diplomatic allegiances from Taiwan to China in 2019.

“Regrettably, frustrations and pent-up anger of the people against the prime minister are spilling uncontrollably over onto the streets, where opportunists have taken advantage of the already serious and deteriorating situation,” Opposition leader Matthew Wale said.

Meanwhile, Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it would deploy more than 100 police and military personnel to aid the Solomon Islands in restoring stability and security.

“It is not the Australian government’s intention in any way to intervene in the internal affairs of the Solomon Islands, that is for them to resolve,” Morrison said.

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