Honiara residents clear the streets after deadly riots as Australia sends more police to keep the peace.
The prime minister of the riot-hit Solomon Islands on Sunday vowed to defy pressure to resign, saying the violence in the capital was done by some with “bad intention” to topple him.
“It is very clear that the recent events were well-planned and well-planned and well-planned to remove me as prime minister for unfounded reasons,” Prime Minister Manasseh Sogaware said in a televised address to the Pacific island nation.
“I want to show the country that the government is fully intent and nothing can shake us. Sogaware said, we should not bow down or bow down to the wrong intentions of some people.
Sogaware blamed the first three days of violence – during which rioters burned down the capital Honiara before unrest over the weekend – on a dishonesty some prominent others strayed from with false information.
“We must stand against bullying, intimidation and violence. It is for our children and most of our people who cannot defend themselves,” he said.
Sogaware said the violence centered on the capital’s Chinatown caused 200 million Solomon Islander dollars ($25m) in damages and destroyed 1,000 jobs in an economy already squeezed by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
‘Environment still unknown’
Clean-up operations began in the capital as soldiers and police from Australia and Papua New Guinea helped restore peace after days of deadly riots.
Residents of Honiara clear broken glass, debris and rubbish from the streets as heavy machinery clears debris from burnt shops in the hard-hit district of Chinatown.
Roads in the district are still littered with garbage, reminiscent of the looting and riots that followed the protests against the policies of poverty, hunger and Sogaware.
“The situation has calmed down and people are proceeding normally but the environment is still unknown as to what might happen,” Red Cross official Kennedy Waitara told AFP news agency.
Vetara said that many food shops were burnt in the riots.
“It wouldn’t be surprising if we had to experience food shortages and price hikes,” he said.
“Unemployment will definitely increase in the coming weeks because people will definitely be out of jobs now and it will be difficult.”
Riots broke out on Wednesday after protesters tried to storm the Pacific island nation’s parliament, prompting police to fire tear gas. The protesters then set fire to buildings, including a police station and shops.
Sogaware announced a 36-hour curfew in Honiara and sought help from his country’s neighbors. Australia and Papua New Guinea sent 150 peacekeepers on Thursday and Friday, helping to quell the unrest of 800,000 people in the country.
Police arrested more than 100 people and reported the first death from the riots on Friday. He said the charred remains of three people were found in a burnt shop in Chinatown and a forensic team was working to identify the bodies.
Despite the uneasy calm, many people in the capital were too nervous to attend church services, said Nason Takea, a youth leader at Wesley United Church in Honiara.
“Only a small number of people are attending church services because most are still living in fear,” Taake told AFP.
After leaving the church, parishioners began scouring shops for food and essentials, but very few were open, he said.
A preliminary estimate of the cost of the riots, released this weekend by the Central Bank of the Solomon Islands, said 56 buildings were burned and looted in the capital, killing several businesses in a year. faced recovery of more than Rs.
The economy was expected to be worth at least $28m, with the bank’s governor warning that the country’s accounts – already struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic – were further weakened by the riots.
In neighboring Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said more Australian federal police would arrive in the Solomon Islands on Sunday, and said he expected Fiji to contribute troops as well.
“Although things are very volatile at this point … we know plans are being made to ensure that there is peace,” he said.
The Australian leader said the solution to the crisis was up to the Solomon Islands.
“It is not for us to interfere in their democracy. It’s not up to us how to address those issues,” Morrison said, adding that the Australian military only aims to provide a safe environment for this to happen.
Many Solomon Islanders believe their government is corrupt and sensitive to Beijing and other foreign interests.
Opposition leaders called for a no-confidence motion in Sogaware on Saturday.
He may not yet have enough votes to pass the resolution and remove him from office, but the move could create another flashpoint.
The pro-Beijing leader claimed that foreign powers opposing his 2019 decision to switch diplomatic allegiance of Solomon from Taiwan to China were behind the mess.
But others pointed to inter-island tensions and widespread unemployment among the country’s population – 40 percent of whom are under the age of 14.
China’s government on Friday condemned the violence and vowed to “protect the security and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens and institutions”.