Solomon Islands Closes Roads As Opposition Supporters Clash with Government Supporters

The Solomon Islands enters a 36-hour lockdown Monday after riots broke out between opposition and government supporters. Authorities fear the violence could spread to other areas.

The government said police had to close all but three roads from Honiara, the capital, to the neighboring nation of Papua New Guinea.

The government said people could move around the country but they were not allowed to transport anything other than essentials.

After leaving government buildings, officers and supporters of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare faced off with supporters of opposition leader Danny Philip.

All three major airports have been closed for the day. There were reports of clashes at the Freeport Anchorage copper and gold mine and at a police station.

Schools and offices have been closed.

Radio New Zealand International said the streets of the capital Honiara have become engulfed in violence.

“Cars are burning and a lot of local residents are trying to get home but authorities are closed the road,” one resident told the station.

Videos show a group of men throwing stones and crashing into buildings in the capital.

“Some of the streets around Parliament and Government House have been damaged,” Voice Australia quoted its editor in chief Chris Graham as saying.

“We know that people have been fired on and there are reports of injured civilians at the Freeport Police station,” she added.

“Government-side communications were largely shut down as rioters occupied police stations and broke into the Prime Minister’s residence.”

Sir Arnold Amet

Sir Arnold Amet, the United Party for National Development leader, said Prime Minister Sogavare had resigned following the violence.

But Communications Minister Manasseh Sogavare said that he was not stepping down and could not give any further details.

“Don’t ask me anymore. I can’t come out of my house,” the prime minister told RNZI after returning from a flight to Honiara.

“I’m not stepping down. I’m only going to go back to Parliament and ask them to accept the document from Friday’s meeting.”

Opposition leader Sir Danny Philip said Monday he would form an alternative government if the government continues to reject his motion of no confidence.

“The people of the Solomon Islands need to find themselves in a better country. It is not in the interest of any of us. I am going to fight the government and I’m going to fight for the people,” he said.

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