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Three dead in riots in the capital

Riots turn tragic in the Solomon Islands. The bodies of three people killed were discovered in a burned-out building in the capital Honiara, police said on Saturday.

The charred bodies were in a store in Chinatown. A security guard said he found them Friday night in two burnt down rooms. An investigation has been opened to try to determine the causes of the death of the three people who died, the first since the riots began on Wednesday.

A curfew in place

On Saturday morning, the streets of the capital were relatively quiet, with residents trying to assess the damage caused by the rioters. A nighttime curfew came into effect in Honiara on Friday evening, after a third day of riots that saw the prime minister’s residence threatened, buildings burned and shops looted. Australian police and soldiers, who had just arrived, quickly intervened to restore order, protect certain buildings and patrol, heavily armed, the streets of the capital of this monarchy located in Melanesia.

The riots began on Wednesday when hundreds of people protested to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare before going to the Chinatown of Honiara, which has a population of 80,000. The causes of the anger are multiple, among them the dissatisfaction with the government, the economic difficulties aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the historic rivalry between the inhabitants of the most populous island of the country, Malaita, and that of Guadalcanal where the administrative capital of this archipelago of 700,000 inhabitants is located.

The government no longer leans for Taiwan

Residents of Malaita Island feel abandoned by the central government, and disputes escalated when, in 2019, the government decided to no longer diplomatically recognize Taiwan but China. Beijing also condemned these riots on Friday and pledged to “ensure the security and the rights and interests of Chinese citizens and institutions”.

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