New Zealand ‘deeply concerned’ over Solomon Islands riots

new-zealand-‘deeply-concerned’-over-solomon-islands-riots

New Zealand’s government has issued a statement expressing deep concern over rioting and unrest in the Solomon Islands, but saying no requests for assistance have yet been received.

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Photo: RNZ/ Dom Thomas

Police were overrun last night in the Solomon Islands capital Honiara as people swarmed into town in defiance of a 36-hour lockdown.

Buildings were still burning today hours after the government curfew ended at 7am local time, with some people continuing to loot shops.

It followed political protests earlier in the week against Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare. In a public address today, Sogavare said he had been asked to step down, but would not.

This afternoon, New Zealand’s Trade Minister David Parker issued the release as acting Foreign Affairs Minister, with Nanaia Mahuta overseas on her first official trip.

“New Zealand is a long-standing partner of Solomon Islands, and there are deep and enduring connections between our two countries,” Parker said.

“Our engagement in Solomon Islands is guided by the principle of tātou tātou, or all of us acting together for the common good. We stand with the government and people of Solomon Islands through this difficult time.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed Australian police and defence force personnel had begun arriving there after a request from Sogavare.

Parker said New Zealand welcomed the generosity shown by Australia, but no requests for assistance had been received at this point.

However, New Zealand had a long-standing partnership with the country including through the police, he said.

The New Zealand High Commission was providing safe travel advice for New Zealanders in the Solomon Islands, Parker said.

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