Unrest as Solomon Islanders defy lockdown

·1-min read

Protesters in the Solomon Islands have defied a lockdown and set fire to buildings in the capital in a second day of unrest.

Australia's National Security Committee has reportedly called a meeting on Thursday morning amid reports and images shared on social media of crowds of protesters and burning buildings in the Chinatown district of Honiara.

The governments of both countries had been speaking over the past 24 hours about the worsening situation, ABC reports.

Media reports said people had travelled from the most populous province of Malaita to the capital because of concern about being overlooked by the national government.

The province opposed a 2019 decision to end diplomatic ties with Taiwan and establish formal links with China, resulting in an independence referendum last year which the national government has dismissed as illegitimate.

Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on Wednesday declared a 36-hour lockdown in Honiara after the latest unrest, calling it "another sad and unfortunate event aimed at bringing a democratically elected government down".

The lockdown, which will run until 7am on Friday, would "allow our law enforcement agencies to fully investigate the perpetrators of today's events and to prevent further lawless destruction", Sogavare said.

The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force urged people attending schools and businesses around Honiara to stay home to avoid being affected by unrest.

"We want to make sure that our streets, schools and businesses will reopen soon after the lockdown," said the police force's Deputy Commissioner Juanita Matanga in a statement.

"I am asking for your co-operation until the situation turns normal."

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