Australia will deploy more than 100 police and military personnel to help the Solomon Islands, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Thursday., as protesters in the Pacific island nation defied the curfew to protest for the second day in a row.
Morrison said that the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, had requested the help of Australia, which the Canberra National Security Committee quickly approved.
Australia will ship immediately 23 police officers to help control the riotstated Morrison, and others 50 troops to reinforce security in critical infrastructures.
Morrison noted that other 43 military personnel to help Australian policemen.
“Our purpose here is provide stability and security to allow normal constitutional processes, within the Solomon Islands, to be able to deal with the various issues that have arisen”The Australian Prime Minister told reporters in Canberra.
“It is not the intention of the Australian government in any way to intervene in the internal affairs of the Solomon Islands.They have to solve that ”, he added.
The deployment of Australian personnel comes amid reports and images shared on social media showing Crowds of protesters and burning buildings in Honiara’s Chinatown district.
Many protesters moved from the most populated province, Malaita, to the capital for fear of being ignored by the national government, according to the media.
The province opposed the 2019 decision to end diplomatic ties with Taiwan and establish formal ties with China., which led to an independence referendum last year that the national government has called illegitimate.
The Solomons, the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of World War II, suffered major riots in 2006 following disputed elections, and many Chinese-owned businesses in Honiara were burned and looted.
On Wednesday, Sogavare declared the 36-hour lockdown in Honiara after the latest riots, and rated them as “Another sad and unfortunate event destined to overthrow a democratically elected government”.
The blockade, which will last until 7 am on Friday, “will allow our law enforcement agencies to thoroughly investigate the perpetrators of today’s events and prevent further damage,” said Sogavare.
The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) urged people who attend schools and shops around Honiara to stay at home to avoid being affected by the riots.
“We want to ensure that our streets, schools and businesses reopen soon after closing,” RSIPF Deputy Commissioner Juanita Matanga said in a statement.
“I ask for your cooperation until the situation returns to normal,” he concluded.
(With information from Reuters)