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Solomon Islands lifts curfew as unrest subsides

By AFP
10 December 2021   |   9:31 am
The Solomon Islands abruptly lifted a two-week-old curfew on the capital of Honiara Friday, as political tensions eased in the Pacific nation

People stand guard outside closed shops in Honiara on December 6, 2021 as Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare faces a no-confidence vote Monday, with international peacekeepers patrolling the capital in case of fresh political rioting. (Photo by Gary Ramage / AFP) / Australia OUT / NO ARCHIVES

The Solomon Islands abruptly lifted a two-week-old curfew on the capital of Honiara Friday, as political tensions eased in the Pacific nation

Royal Solomon Islands Police Commissioner Mostyn Mangau announced the lifting of restrictions, which included a ban on vessels entering the port of Honiara from neighbouring islands.

“I would like to thank those living in the Emergency Zone for your cooperation during the curfew period and to my hard-working officers for the job well done,” he said.

The nighttime curfew entered into force on November 26 as police struggled to bring three days of deadly rioting under control.

Anti-government protests late last month brought widespread looting and left at least three people dead.

The country’s central bank has put the damage caused by the riots at US$67 million, saying 63 buildings in the capital were burned and looted.

Around 200 foreign peacekeepers from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea have been deployed around the capital.

Life has slowly returned to normal, even as political tensions linger.

The protests were sparked by opposition to veteran Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who is keen to forge closer ties with Beijing.

The 66-year-old four-time leader sailed through a vote of no confidence in parliament this week, blunting the attacks of his opponents.

His rule is opposed by the leaders of Malaita — the Solomons’ most populous island.

They continue to call for more autonomy and hint at a push for statehood, but so far have not returned to the streets in protest.

The international peacekeeping mission was expected to last just “weeks” according to Australian officials, although no end date has yet been announced.

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