CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Demonstrators in the Solomon Islands defied government lockdown orders to take to the streets for a second day Thursday in violent protests.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had declared the lockdown Wednesday after about 1,000 people gathered in protest in the capital Honiara demanding his resignation over a host of domestic issues, according to local media reports.
The protesters breached the National Parliament building and burned the thatched roof of a nearby building, the government said. They also set fire to a police station and other buildings.
“They were intent on destroying our nation and ... the trust that was slowly building among our people,” the government said in a statement.
Sogavare ordered the capital locked down from 7 p.m. Wednesday through 7 p.m. Friday after saying he had “witnessed another sad and unfortunate event aimed at bringing a democratically elected government down.”
“I had honestly thought that we had gone past the darkest days in the history of our country,” he said. “However, today's events are a painful reminder that we have a long way to go.”
Despite an announcement from the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force that they would be conducting increased patrols through Honiara amid the lockdown, protesters again took to the streets Thursday.
Local journalist Gina Kekea posted photos on Twitter of a bank, shops and a school in flames.
Sogavare angered many in 2019, particularly leaders of the Solomon Islands’ most populous province Malaita, when he cut the country's diplomatic ties with Taiwan, switching its diplomatic allegiance to China instead.