Australia sends troops to Solomon Islands

Australia sends troops to Solomon Islands

Anti-Govt. protests turn violent

Australia announced on Thursday it is sending police, troops and diplomats to the Solomon Islands to help after anti-Government demonstrators defied lockdown orders and took to the streets for a second day in violent protests.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the deployment includes a detachment of 23 federal police officers and up to 50 more to provide security at critical infrastructure sites, as well as 43 defence force personnel, a patrol boat and at least five diplomats. “Our purpose here is to provide stability and security,” he said.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare declared a lockdown on Wednesday after about 1,000 people gathered in protest in the capital, Honiara, demanding his resignation over a host of domestic issues.

Tensions between the Government and the leadership of the most populous island of Malaita have been simmering for some time.

The premier of Malaita has been outspokenly critical of Mr. Sogavare’s 2019 decision to cut the country’s diplomatic ties with Taiwan, switching its diplomatic allegiance to China instead. The province has also complained it has been unfairly deprived of Government investment.

The protesters on Wednesday breached the National Parliament building and burned the thatched roof of a nearby building, the Government said.

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