Solomon Islands PM Sogavare Blames Foreign Powers for Fuelling Unrest as Chinese Want Evacuation
Violent protests have continued for a third consecutive day, with reports claiming demonstrators are looting properties in different areas of Honiara, the capital city of the Solomon Islands. Australia has deployed its troops at the request of the Solomon Islands government to control the situation.
On Friday, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare accused foreign powers of fuelling anti-government protests, saying certain countries do not want the pacific island nation to have ties with the People's Republic of China.
Prime Minister Sogavare categorically rejected the opposition's allegations of neglecting development work in the province of Malaita, insisting the division among people over diplomatic relations with China is the sole source of conflict
"These very countries that are now influencing Malaita are the countries that don't want ties with the People's Republic of China and they are discouraging Solomon Islands to enter into diplomatic relations and to comply with international law and the United Nations resolution", Sogavare told the Australian broadcaster ABC on Friday.
Sogavare switched the country's diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to Beijing in 2019, angering the people of the Solomon Islands' most populous province Malaita, who has a cultural relationship with Taipei.
Sogavare, who is now in his fourth term, said that he does not want to "name names". "We'll leave it there; we know who they are", he said.
On Friday, riots spread into different areas as footage appears to show protesters destroying properties and looting showrooms, including a British-American tobacco factory. Rioters also set alight Prime Minister Sagavare's private residence in the Lunga area.
Adamant in their demand for Sogavare's resignation, protesters have inflicted damage in Honiara's Chinatown and its downtown precinct.
Tan Jingquan, the secretary of the Solomon Islands Chinese Association, told China's Global Times that demonstrators
had ruined more than 100 shops owned by Chinese nationals.
Tan noted that "at least 100 Chinese nationals in the Solomon Islands have expressed their wish to be evacuated".
There are around 3,000 Chinese citizens living and working in the Solomon Islands.
Meanwhile, Australian police have arrived in Honiara at the request of the Sogavare government to assist local police efforts to restore law and order.