The looting and violence continue for a third day in the capital when Australian police arrive.
Foreign countries are responsible for fueling the discontent that has led to three days of violent protests in the Solomon Islands, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said on Friday as police repulsed protesters trying to reach Sogavare’s private residence.
Polisen sköt tårgas och varningsskott mot demonstranter, rapporterade nyhetsbyrån AFP, med hänvisning till sina journalister på platsen. The group had already set fire to at least one building in the area.
Sogavare on Wednesday declared a 36-hour curfew in Honiara, the country’s capital, but protesters have not paid much attention to the shutdown.
Many of them come from the most populous province of Malaita and were against Sogavare’s sudden decision in 2019 to sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan and establish formal relations with China instead. Malaita’s leader still keep in touch with Taiwan and get oversized help from Taipei and Washington.
Sogavare said the anger had been aroused by unnamed foreign countries.
“I feel sorry for my people in Malaita because they are being fed with false and deliberate lies about the prey,” Sogavare said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“It is precisely these countries that are now affecting Malaita that are the countries that do not want relations with the People’s Republic of China, and they are discouraging Solomon Islands from entering into diplomatic relations and complying with international law and the UN resolution.”
The Solomon Islands were among a dozen Pacific islands that recognized Taiwan until the 2019 decision, in which Taipei accused Beijing of using “dollar diplomacy“To pressure countries to break ties with the autonomous island.
Transform Aqorau, which lives in the Solomon Islands, said more than 100 people in Honiara looted stores.
“The scenes here are really chaotic. It’s like a war zone,” Aqorau told Reuters by telephone. “There is no public transport and it is a struggle with the heat and the smoke. Buildings are still burning.”
The first Australian police arrived in the country on Friday, after Sogavare requested it help.
The Solomon Islands, located east of Papua New Guinea, have struggled with unrest and political violence since becoming independent from Britain in 1978.
The rivalry between the most populous island of Malaita and the Guadalcanal-based central government has repeatedly led to clashes, with Malaita complaining that it has been neglected.