As the Pacific Island nation faces another day of rioting, Australian Defence Force personnel will be deployed and federal police will be deployed in Solomon Islands.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that 23 members of the Australian Federal Police Specialist Response Group would be deployed immediately.
Tomorrow, 50 additional AFP officers and 43 Defence Force personnel will be deployed to support critical infrastructure.
Following a meeting of Cabinet’s National Security Committee, Morrison stated that “our purpose here is provide stability and security.”
Defence troops include around 30 soldiers from the Army’s 3rd Brigade and medical personnel.
Recent unrest has rocked Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands.
Yesterday police used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse large numbers calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogare.
After the protests that saw buildings, including a police station, set on fire by Mr Sogavare, Mr Sogavare declared a 36-hour lockdown in Honiara.
On Thursday, protests erupted again in the capital. Smoke was seen rising from Honiara’s Chinatown district.
Unrest stems from anger at government services, corruption and disputes over the move of the Solomon Islands government to closer align itself with China .
Morrison stated that he received reports about buildings being set on fire in the center of the city. This included a large commercial building as well as a branch of a bank.
He stated that Mr. Sogavare had asked for assistance from Australia under a 2017 security treaty.
The Australian deployment is not an intervention into political affairs, PM states
The PM stated that he expects the Australian deployment to last only a few weeks.
He stated that “our purpose is to provide stability to allow the normal constitutional processes within the Solomon Islands to be able deal with the many issues that have arose.”
“It’s not the intention of the Australian government to interfere in the internal affairs in Solomon Islands. That is up to them.
“In a situation such as this, where there is once more civil unrest,” we are there for them because they are very close to us as part our Pacific family.
Foreign Minister Marise Paayne stated that families and staff at the Australian mission to Honiara are safe.
Senator Payne stated that the Department of Foreign Affairs advised Australians to avoid roadblocks and demonstrations, and to monitor local media.
In 2003, a Regional Assistance Mission was dispatched to Solomon Islands. It remained there until 2017.