Many protesters came from Malaita, the country’s most populous island, to Guadalcanal Island, where the capital is located. The strained relationship between the two islands, due to a perceived unequal distribution of economic resources and development that has made Malaita one of the poorest provinces in the country, dates back decades. Its provincial government has maintained relations with Taiwan in violation of the central government’s decision to diplomatically align itself with Beijing.
A planned protest turned violent on Wednesday when protesters stormed parliament calling for Mr Sogavare’s resignation. In the streets, they clashed with police officers, who used tear gas and fired shots. Protesters torched a police station, a high school and numerous buildings in Chinatown. They looted shops and attempted to ransack Mr. Sogavare’s personal residence before being pushed back by the police.
As protests raged, opposition parliamentarians and Daniel Suidani, Malaita’s prime minister, stepped up calls for Sogavare’s resignation. But he refused, saying: “If I am removed from my post as Prime Minister, it will be on the floor of Parliament. “
The Chinese Embassy has called on Chinese residents in Honiara to shut down their businesses and hire security guards, while a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said China is “taking all necessary measures to protect the security and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens and institutions in Solomon. He is. “
Police said on Saturday they had arrested more than 100 people in connection with the riots, and the police commissioner called on residents to “respect each other and our visiting foreign friends.”