Source : PortMac.News | Globe :
Source : PortMac.News | Globe | News Story:
News Story Summary:
The demonstration was linked to an ongoing issue between the national government and the government of Malaita province, which has refused to recognise China.
Around 1,000 people gathered at the gates of parliament, where MPs are currently sitting, and schools closed early as a safety precaution.
Local journalist Gina Kekea told the ABC the protests had surprised most Honiara residents.
Buildings were stoned and a traditional leaf hut next to Parliament House went up in flames.
"It was the tear gas that started the fire," Kekea said.
One female officer was injured, she said, while several protesters were arrested.
Juanita Matanga, a spokeswoman for the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, told a press conference that "a lot of people" had destroyed buildings in Honiara, including a police station.
"I'm really sad to see the behaviour," she said.
"Whatever differences we have, there are ways that we can resolve these problems."
Gina Kekea said it was likely that "the worst is yet to come", with other Honiara residents joining the protests.
China diplomatic ties cause political conflict:
The Solomon Islands Herald reported that protesters later looted and damaged shops in Honiara's Chinatown, and marched to the Chinese embassy.
Beijing opened an embassy in Honiara in September 2020, after the Solomon Islands shifted its diplomatic ties from Taiwan to mainland China.
The Premier of Malaita province, Daniel Suidani (Above), has been a vocal critic of the cutting of diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
National government MPs from Malaita yesterday called upon Mr Suidani and his government to urge their supporters not to commit acts of violence.
"Exercise your duty and moral obligation as leaders to uncategorically and unconditionally recall our people, our brothers and sons from carrying out such a potentially dangerous and violent actions," the MPs said in a statement.
"We also appeal to our good people of Malaita to respect our status and blood-ties as fellow Malaitans and Solomon Islanders.
"Please remain in your villages and homes and refrain from being used by political opportunists taking advantage of your genuine frustrations to incite violence for their own end."
Kekea said she had spoken with Mr Suidani, who claimed the protests were "the result when the national government don't listen to people".
She said the frustration had begun with the switch of diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to China in September 2019.
"There's a whole lot of events that have happened along the way and it's a combination of all those things put together that ended up this way," Kekea said.
The ABC has been told that the Australian government is preparing to respond to any requests for support from Solomon Islands.
"The situation is evolving in Honiara with civil unrest," said a statement from the Australian High Commission in Honiara.
"Please exercise care and remain where you are if it is safe to do so and avoid crowds."
Story By | Max Walden, Edwina Seselja & Catherine Graue