Nov 26, 2021 - World

Solomon Islands leader blames foreign interference for unrest

 Smoke rises from a burnt out buildings in Honiara's Chinatown on November 26, 2021 after two days of rioting.

Burnt-out buildings in Honiara's Chinatown on Friday, after two days of rioting around the district. Photo: Charley Piringi/AFP via Getty Images

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Friday "foreign powers" were to blame for days of unrest in the South Pacific nation.

Why it matters: His government's decision to change alliances from Taiwan to China sparked a wave of anger and massive protests and riots in the capital, Honiara, this week — which resulted in Sogavare declaring a lockdown and calling in Australian police, who swept in to take control of the city Friday, per Reuters.

  • Honiara's Chinatown became a target of looters and rioters, with buildings burned down in the area and in the downtown precinct, AP reports.

What they're saying: Sogavare told the ABC that unspecified foreign powers had fed protesters "false and deliberate lies about the switch" to Beijing.

Yes, but: Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a separate interview with the ABC that there was no indication "at all" of foreign interference.

The other side: Critics say the unrest is the result of a "lack of government services and accountability, corruption and Chinese businesses giving jobs to foreigners instead of locals," according to AP.

Go deeper: China charms Pacific Island countries

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