Solomon Islands government urges public servants to stay home

Unrest is unrest in the region and no-one wishes to go there unless necessary

Solomon Islands Government officials have told public servants to stay home, with the Solomon Islands Police Commissioner reiterating the health risks of going outside.

The BBC reports violent demonstrations took place on Thursday and Friday, as citizens continued to demonstrate against the Solomon Islands prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare.

The protest has evolved into a general election rally, with crowds numbering in the thousands.

Friday night was the first time security forces were deployed to the Manasseh Sogavare Place, where the protest has been taking place.

Our correspondent, Dorothy Wickham, says crowds have demanded the immediate resignation of the prime minister.

There has been repeated injury and arrests as mobs tried to break into the prime minister’s offices, taking out their anger at Mr Sogavare’s refusal to step down.

The police commissioner, Simon Kauba, has reiterated the need for the protest to be peaceful.

He says demonstrations can also be dangerous and no-one should go to the streets unless they are necessary, even if violence or property damage occurs.

Our correspondent says some of the protesters were also burning vehicles, though a police spokesman has said there has been no violence during the past three days.

Meanwhile, a church leader in Honiara, the capital, has spoken out against the looting and destruction of the prime minister’s offices, which has been reported from other parts of the country.

Overseas and private sector workers in Honiara have agreed to take part in an international transport strike to support the protests and to express their disappointment over their prime minister’s refusal to go.

Deputy national secretary for the Samoa Workers Union (SWU), Neag Te Su’i, told Radio New Zealand international there were also calls for his country to withdraw its citizens from Solomon Islands.

Mereani Solomon

Solomon Islands Deputy Director of Police has taken to social media in an effort to confirm public perceptions that police involvement in the march and subsequent violence is widespread.

In his brief statement, Deputy Director of Police, Faimalani Makoa, said a lot of misinformation had been floated online, as has increased opposition to police deployment to monitor the protests.

He said “people mischievously put ‘police’ and ‘riot’ on the same post… and in effect told an already inflammatory story – based on that post the fear of arrest/disclosure – increased.

“It is time we clean up our own house”

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