New Zealand forces deployed to Solomon Islands in wake of riots

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Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare ... warning over "another evil plan". Image: SI Govt Communications Unit

RNZ Pacific

The New Zealand government is deploying dozens of Defence Force and police personnel to Honiara in the coming days “to help restore peace and stability”.

Since rioting and looting started in the Solomon Islands last week, Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea have sent troops to help keep the peace there.

An initial NZDF team of 15 will join them tomorrow, followed by a larger group of 50 at the weekend.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the response was short-term and to help restore peace and stability.

“New Zealand is committed to its responsibilities and playing its part in upholding regional security.

“We are deeply concerned by the recent civil unrest and rioting in Honiara, and following yesterday’s request of the Solomon Islands government, we have moved quickly to provide urgent assistance.

Samoan police are also on standby to send personnel to assist peacekeeping forces.

Unrest stemmed from protest
The unrest stemmed from a protest calling for the removal of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare that spilled over into rioting and left major destruction in the capital.

Earlier today, it was reported that the Solomon Islands government had warned that instigators were planning what it called “another evil plan” to decimate the whole of Honiara.

A government statement said the destruction of local businesses was done by “heartless people with selfish agendas”.

It warned that instigators were planning a next phase of unrest, including the declaration of Malaita province as an independent state.

Malaita’s provincial Premier Daniel Suidani, whose administration has fallen out with the national government, denies claims that he instigated the unrest.

Malaitans played a central role in last week’s protest before opportunists and looters co-opted the mobilisation into major unrest.

Premier of Malaita province Daniel Suidani.
Premier Daniel Suidani of Malaita province … denies claims that he instigated the unrest. Image: Daniel Suidani/Provincial Facebook/RNZ

Ringleader statements on Facebook
The government statement said it was aware of reports that ringleaders behind the unrest were openly stating on Facebook that “in order to build a new house, the old house must be first destroyed”.

“Such statements are not helping the volatile situation we are currently experiencing in Honiara,” the statement said.

“To the peace loving and right minded Malaitans, we should ask ourselves whether we are comfortable with the violent advocators to lead our people to an independent state.”

However, the national government said it was encouraged by “the wisdom of the majority of our citizens not to employ violence, looting or threatening tactics to impose one’s evil plan of decimating Honiara city, the capital of Solomon Islands”.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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