Australia sends troops to Solomon Islands as riots continue

Australia rushed soldiers to the Solomon Islands on Thursday hoping to calm the riots in the capital city Honiara, which threatened to topple the Pacific nation’s government and left its capital on fire. 

PM Scott Morrison said police and army personnel would provide stability and security to the islands. The violence began on Wednesday when protestors stormed parliament in a bid to topple the PM. On Thursday crowds defied a lockdown and set fire to government buildings, a police station and businesses.

Mr Morrison said he had received a request for assistance from the prime minister Manasseh Sogavare under a security treaty the country signed with Australia in 2017. Australia and the Solomon Islands have a 2017 bilateral security treaty that allows Australian police, defence and associated civilian personnel to be deployed rapidly to the Solomon Islands in the event of an emergency.

The majority of the protestors are allegedly from the nearby island of Malaita, which has long complained about neglect from the central government. Prime Minister Sogavare has made assurances that his government is still in control.

“Today I stand before you to inform you all that our country is safe — your government is in place and continues to lead our nation,” Mr Sogavare said, adding that those responsible “will face the full brunt of the law.” He also condemned the protestors, saying “those involved in the latest unrest had been “led astray by unscrupulous people”.

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