Australia sends troops and police to the Solomon Islands in the turmoil

Australia said it was sending police, military and diplomats to the Solomon Islands to help after anti-government demonstrators ignored the blockade order and took to the streets for the second day in a row to protest violently.

CANBERRA, Australia – After anti-government demonstrators ignored the blockade order and took to the streets for the second consecutive day in violent protests, Australia announced on Thursday that it would send police, military and diplomats to the Solomon Islands to provide assistance.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that the deployment will include a detachment of 23 federal police and up to 50 security guards at critical infrastructure sites, as well as 43 defense personnel, a patrol boat and At least 5 diplomats.

Morrison said the first batch of personnel will arrive on Thursday night, with more personnel arriving on Friday, and the deployment is expected to continue for several weeks.

“Our purpose here is to provide stability and security,” he said.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manassiso Gavare announced the blockade on Wednesday after about 1,000 people gathered in the capital Honiara to protest, demanding that he resign due to a series of domestic issues.

The government stated that protesters broke into the National Assembly building and burned the thatched roofs of nearby buildings. They also set fire to police stations and other buildings.

The government said in a statement: “They intend to destroy our country and… the trust that is slowly building between our people.”

Morrison said that in the violent incidents stipulated in the bilateral security treaty, Sogavare had requested assistance from Australia.

“The Australian government has no intention of interfering in the internal affairs of the Solomon Islands in any way. It is up to them to resolve it,” he said.

“Our presence there does not indicate any position on the internal issues of the Solomon Islands,” Morrison added.

Sogavare, after saying that he had “witnessed another sad and unfortunate incident aimed at overthrowing an elected government”, ordered the blockade of the capital from 7pm on Wednesday to 7pm on Friday.

“To be honest, I thought we had passed the darkest days in our history,” he said. “However, today’s event is a painful reminder that we still have a long way to go.”

Although the Royal Solomon Islands Police announced that they would step up patrols on Honiara during the blockade, protesters took to the streets again on Thursday.

Local reporter Gina Kekea posted photos of a bank, a store and a school on fire on Twitter.

Morrison said that after the Solomon Islands police were clearly “stretched”, he decided to help.

Sogavare angered many people in 2019, especially the leader of Malaita Province, the most populous province of the Solomon Islands, when he severed diplomatic relations between the country and Taiwan and turned to China for allegiance.

Local media reported that many of the protesters were from Malaita. The prime minister of Malata, Daniel Sudani, had disagreements with Sogavare. He accused Sogavare of being too close to Beijing.

Sudani said he was not responsible for the violence in Honiara, but told the Salomon Star that he agreed with Sogavare’s call for resignation.

“In the past 20 years, Mannaseh Sogavare (Mannaseh Sogavare) came to power, the plight of Solomon Islanders has worsened, while at the same time, foreigners have reaped the best resources in the country,” Sudani quoted road. “People don’t turn a blind eye to this and don’t want to be deceived anymore.”

————— Rising reports from Bangkok.

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