Home Australia Australia’s Solomon Islands intervention is defending a ‘corrupt’ government, premier says #englishheadline #Australias #Solomon #Islands #intervention #defending #corrupt #government #premier

Australia’s Solomon Islands intervention is defending a ‘corrupt’ government, premier says #englishheadline #Australias #Solomon #Islands #intervention #defending #corrupt #government #premier

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Daniel Suidani, the anti-government premier of the Malaita province, told SBS News on Monday the Australian presence on the ground has been viewed negatively.

“When the Australian police came here, to us, we see they come here under Sogavare’s request to defend him in power,” he said.

“We see this as they are defending the government that the people do not like … and when Australia comes in, they come in support to the government that people see is corrupt.”

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Image for read more article 'Australia deploys ADF troops, federal police officers to help quell civil unrest in Solomon Islands'

The crisis erupted last Wednesday when protests over government policies turned violent, fuelled by poverty, unemployment and inter-island rivalries in the nation of 800,000.

Protesters voiced anger over perceived corruption and development decisions they say favour foreign firms over locally owned businesses.

Mr Sogavare last week blamed interference by unnamed foreign powers for the protests, and in a speech on Sunday said the rioting, which also targeted his residence, caused $281 million in damages and cost more than 1,000 jobs.

Mr Suidani said local frustration has been building for some time, and people want a change of government.

“They feel the government is no longer trusted for leadership.”

This photo shows aftermath of a looted street in Honiara's Chinatown

Source: AP

On Monday, Fiji announced it would deploy 50 troops to the Solomons and parliament resumed.

Solomon Islands Red Cross Secretary General Clement Manuri however warned of food shortages in Honiara.

He said most of the stores where people bought food staples had been destroyed in the protests and food was becoming scarce.

“We’re having meetings now with the [National Disaster Management Office],” he said. “It’s not clear but soon, in certain crowded places, maybe they’ll run out of food.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday Australia was not “interfering in [the Solomons’] democracy”.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews on Monday said the role of Australia’s support in Honiara was strictly of a peacekeeping nature.

“Our mission to the Solomon Islands is very clear: we are there … to do all that we can to restore the stability in the region and to protect people and critical infrastructure,” she told federal parliament.

“We have made it very clear our role from Australia is not to involves ourselves in domestic and political situations that are arising in the Solomon Islands.”

Australian Defence Force members at Honiara Airport on 26 November 2021


Mr Sogavare was contacted for comment by SBS News, but his office said he was “extremely busy”.

He has vowed to defy pressure to resign, saying violence that swept the capital had been orchestrated by a few people with “evil intention” to topple him.

The unrest comes amid a geo-political battle for influence in the Pacific, which Malaita finds itself right in the middle of.

The Solomon Islands government under Mr Sogavare has been moving increasingly closer to China, and in 2019 switched diplomatic alliances from Taipei to Beijing. 

The move has fuelled tensions in Malaita, which relies on funding from Taiwan and the United States.

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Image for read more article 'Solomon Islands residents clean riot-hit capital as Australian peacekeepers deployed'

Amid this tug of war, experts say it’s significant the Solomons’ leaders called on Australia in a time of crisis.

Kerryn Baker, from the Australian National University’s Department of Pacific Affairs, said it was “a sign that Australia is a partner of choice for the Solomon Islands and the wider Pacific region”. 

“I think that it shows Australia’s soft power in the region,” she said.

“That is not something that you can accumulate immediately, it takes a long time. It also shows that it is important for Pacific island governments to have options.

“They like having options –  just because they move close to China doesn’t mean they want Australia to just go away.”


#Australias #Solomon #Islands #intervention #defending #corrupt #government #premier

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