Australia will send troops to the Solomon Islands as the South Pacific nation descends into chaos in the wake of anti-China riots.
The Australian National Security Commission held crisis talks on Thursday afternoon after Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavary asked the Australian government for assistance under the 2017 bilateral security agreement.
Scott Morrison has announced that 23 Australian Federal Police officers are already on track to support “riot control” with 50 more deployed to protect “critical infrastructure”.
Additionally, 43 Defense Force personnel are scheduled to make the flight on Friday to support “critical infrastructure” Like the airport.
Scott Morrison (pictured) announces that Australia will send troops to the Solomon Islands as the South Pacific nation descends into chaos in the wake of anti-China riots.
An angry mob was videotaped smashing windows and firing projectiles at Kokum Traffic Police Station before some rioters entered the building and set it on fire.
People gather near Naha Police Station as Solomon Islands residents defied the government-imposed lockdown and protested in the capital, in Honiara, Solomon Islands, November 25, 2021.
Australian forces in the Solomon Islands:
AFP sent 23 officers from the Specialized Response Group, in addition to 50 others.
– Their RAAF flight departed from Canberra on Thursday afternoon.
– Another 50 officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines will be deployed on Friday.
ADF will dispatch 43 personnel on Friday, all departing from Townsville.
About 30 members of the 3rd Brigade.
Medical personnel from the 17th Brigade.
A military police unit from the Sixth Brigade.
There will also be a Hercules helicopter that has been dispatched with equipment.
“Our goal here is to provide security and stability to enable the normal constitutional processes within the Solomon Islands to deal with the various issues that have arisen,” the prime minister said.
Demonstrators for a second day in the capital, Honiara, demanded the resignation of Mr. Sugavari, expressing concerns about Chinese influence in the country.
Shops and businesses in Chinatown have been targeted by rioters as well as government buildings and police stations.
An angry mob was videotaped smashing windows and firing shells at Kokum Traffic Police Station before some rioters entered the building and set it on fire.
Huge flames rose from the building before a lone firefighter moved to try to put out the flames.
A 36-hour lockdown has been ordered in Honiara to quell civil unrest, but so far it has had little effect with similar scenes popping up all over the right across the captive.
The situation is still volatile with reasonably large crowds moving. Mr Morrison said the Royal Solomon Islands police force is overstretched.
“We have received reports of more buildings burned down on the main road in central Honiara, including a large commercial building and a bank branch.”
A firefighter walks past a burning hardware store, during anti-government protests in Honiara, Solomon Islands, November 24, 2021,
Smoke coming from a burning shop in Honiara, Solomon Islands, November 24, 2021
Tensions were brewing in the country of about 700,000 people after Mr. Sugavari in September 2019 cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of Beijing.
The move angered many locals who feared that the country’s natural resources – particularly fishing, palm oil and logging – were being plundered by the authoritarian power.
Beijing handed over about $730 million to the Solomon Islands government after making the diplomatic transition.
The general feeling is that this money was paid in exchange for a portion of their sovereignty including access to politicians and back doors to the ownership of both public companies.
With Australia currently in a bitter diplomatic dispute with China over trade, the decision to send troops to support Mr. Sugavari comes with great reluctance from Canberra.
Australia deployed about 2,200 military personnel to the Solomon Islands in 2003 as part of a regional assistance mission
Soldiers from Delta Company, 1st Royal Australian Regiment board an Australian Air Force aircraft from Townsville to Solomon Island to assist the Australian Federal Police, Wednesday 19 April 2006
The South Pacific leader has long been an outspoken critic of Australia, whose popularity has waned dramatically in recent years.
But if Australia does not act, it is leaving the door open for Beijing to provide security reinforcements, something Canberra is desperately seeking to avoid.
Australia deployed about 2,200 military personnel to the Solomon Islands in 2003 as part of the Regional Assistance Mission.
Similar scenes of civil unrest erupted in 2006 after Snyder Rainey was elected prime minister.
Angry locals believed the vote was “fixed” by the country’s powerful Chinese businessmen, and as a result the Chinatown businesses were looted and burned, destroying about 90 percent of the area.
Canberra has sent troops to stabilize the unrest with the Australian Federal Police remaining in the country to help with law enforcement until June 30, 2017.
Three Australian Army helicopters arrive at the turbulent Weathercoast in the Solomon Islands in 2003
Pictured: An Australian soldier in the streets of devastated Chinatown in Honiara offers a drink of water to a fellow soldier during a patrol, Saturday, April 22, 2006
Critics have called on Sugavari to step down in order to quell the violence.
But the embattled statesman remained strong, showing no sign of his intention to leave the highest office.
“No one is above the law,” he said in a statement to the rioters. “These people will face the consequences of their actions.”
I honestly believed we had passed the darkest days in our country’s history.
“However…(these) events are a painful reminder that we have a long way to go.”