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Friday, December 3, 2021

Solomon Islands Protests: What’s Behind the Riots?

MELBOURNE, Australia. On Thursday, in the capital of the Solomon Islands, protests took place for the second day in a row: rioters clashed with police, set fire to buildings, looted property and demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Manassia Sogavare.

Protesters were met by police on Wednesday with tear gas and rubber bullets after they stormed the national parliament and set fire to a police station and buildings in Chinatown, authorities said. Several other buildings burned down in Chinatown on Thursday, local media reported.

Here’s what we know about protest complaints.

According to official reports and local news, many of the protesters traveled from Malaita Island to Guadalcanal Island, where the country’s capital is.

Experts say that discontent between the two islands has simmered for decades, largely due to the seemingly unequal distribution of resources and lack of economic support, which has made Malaita one of the island nation’s least developed provinces.

In Malaita, dissatisfaction also persisted with the central government’s decision in 2019 to shift diplomatic loyalty to China from Taiwan, a self-governing island that China claims to be its territory.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry accused Beijing of bribing Solomon politicians to leave Taipei on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China under the Communist Party.

The Solomon Islands is an archipelago of nearly 1,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean, about 1,000 miles northeast of Australia. The population of the island chain is only 650,000 people, mostly farmers and fishermen.

Malaita is the most populous of the islands, with a population of 160,500 as of last year. Densely forested, mountainous and volcanic, it is located 30 miles northeast of Guadalcanal, a large island, across the Indispensable Strait.

The island nation has found itself in an intensified geopolitical tug-of-war due to the 2019 decision, which dealt a blow to both Taipei’s global position and Washington’s regional diplomacy.

The United States believes that the Solomon Islands and other Pacific nations are critical to preventing China’s growing influence in the region.

China is investing heavily in the Pacific, to the dismay of US officials. In 2019, a Chinese company signed an agreement to lease one of the islands, but the Solomon Islands attorney general later ruled that the agreement was illegal.

Some experts are drawing a straight line from the 2019 decision to this week’s unrest.

Sinclair Dinnen, associate professor of the Pacific Rim at Australian National University, said there was “quite a lot of grievance about this transition” behind the riots.

Malaita Prime Minister Daniel Suidani has been vigorously critical of the prime minister’s decision, and Malaita continues to maintain relations with and support from Taiwan, which is contrary to the position of the central government, said Mihai Sora, a Lowy researcher and former Australian diplomat in the Solomon Islands.

With the United States providing direct foreign aid to Malaita and China backing the central government, the divisions in the country have intensified, he said.

“Geostrategic competition by itself does not cause disorder,” said Mr Sora, “but it is the actions of these large countries that generate sympathy among local players, favoring one over another to achieve their own strategic goals, without stopping to consider whether what is already there. deep social and political currents in the country that destabilize social cohesion. “

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After hundreds of people took to the streets and set fire to a building near the parliament, Mr. Sogaware declared a three-day curfew, from 7:00 pm Wednesday to 7:00 am Friday.

He accused the protesters of political motivation, stating in a video message: “Today our country has witnessed yet another sad and unfortunate event aimed at overthrowing the democratically elected government.”

Mr. Sogaware also promised that the authorities will find the organizers of the protest and bring them to justice.

The Chinese Embassy in Honiara has called on authorities to protect Chinese residents, according to a statement posted on social media.

The embassy said it “requested the Solomon Islands to take all necessary measures to enhance the protection of Chinese businesses and personnel.”

He also advised Chinese residents living in “high-risk areas” to close their businesses and hire security guards.

Mr Sora, a former Australian diplomat, said that in a country where civil unrest is not uncommon, the police have responded “quite skillfully”. He said that so far he has not seen any signs that the government will not be able to maintain control.

On Tuesday, before the protests began, but as Malays began to gather in the capital, a group of members of the Malay federal parliament called on Mr. Suidani and the protest leaders to “refrain from inciting Malays to engage in illegal activities.”

They also called on opposition parliamentarians to “refrain from fanning the flames of violence and incitement.”

But by Thursday, 16 buildings in Chinatown were on fire or burned, according to Nathan Rousser, a researcher at the Australian Institute for Strategic Policy. He came up with this number by matching videos and photographs from the area with maps of the area.

Videos posted on social media show large crowds gathering in Chinatown as smoke billows from buildings.

Dr. Dinnen said other people and groups joined the protest for different reasons.

The machinations of the political opposition to overthrow the government and opportunistic rioters increased the size of the crowd, he said.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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