Authorities in Honiara are imposing a curfew after protesters set fire to buildings, including a police station.
The capital of the Solomon Islands, Honiara, has been placed under curfew after protesters tried to storm the Pacific island nation’s parliament.
Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Wednesday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck, and set fire to a police station near the parliament building, a police spokesman said.
“A crowd formed in front of parliament, I do not know the exact numbers, but it was a large crowd,” the unnamed policeman told AFP news agency.
“They intended to make the prime minister resign – that is public speculation – but we are still investigating the motives. The most important thing is that the police are now in control of the situation and no one is on the streets. “
He said police were unaware of any injuries.
Canberra’s official Smart Traveler advisory service has warned Australian citizens in the Solomons capital to be careful.
“The situation is developing in Honiara with civil unrest. “Please be careful, stay where you are when it is safe to do so and avoid crowds,” it said.
The violence apparently involved a group of protesters traveling to Honiara from the neighboring island of Malaita this week.
Deep ties with Taipei
Their grievances apparently involve alleged neglect by the central government and ongoing dissatisfaction with the Solomons’ decision to change diplomacy. fidelity of Taiwan to China in 2019.
Many communities in Malaita have forged deep ties with Taipei and the island’s local government has repeatedly complained about China embraces.
Such tensions between the islands sparked unrest that led to the deployment of an Australian-led peacekeeping force from 2003 to 2017.
There were riots after general elections in 2006, with many of Honiara’s Chinatown destroyed amid rumors circulating businesses with links to Beijing deceived the mood.
Honiara-based lawmakers from Malaita issued a statement this week calling on protesters from their homeland to refrain from violence.
“The devastating consequences such actions will have on our people and future will take this country 20 years back,” it said.
Sogavare’s office was approached for comment.