PNG PM Marape appeals to Solomon Islanders to respect the rule of law

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Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape has appealed to the people of neighbouring Solomon Islands to “respect the rule of law and democratic institutions and not to take the law into their own hands”.

He said this after receiving a call from Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, on protests and vandalism by protestors in Papua New Guinea’s closest Melanesian neighbour.

PM Marape in February 2020 signed bilateral agreements with PM Sogavare to strengthen relations between the two countries during an official visit to Honiara.

“The Solomon Islands has helped PNG during the Bougainville Crisis, something for which we are grateful to this day,” he said.

“I want to encourage our wantoks in Honiara to respect the rule of law and democratic institutions and not to take the law into their own hands.

“Solomon Islands has always been a beacon of hope for us in Melanesia, and a middle ground for many of our Pacific and Melanesian issues, so I ask for peaceful democratic dialogue to any issues of discontent,” said PM Marape.

Meanwhile, looters are defying lockdown orders, with reports of looting and attempted break-ins at the Burns creek area east of Honiara.

There are also reports of youths attempting to burn down the Naha police station, with a large group gathered outside, clearly defying lockdown orders to stay at home.

Honiara high school was also torched last night, as was the oceanic marine warehouse.

Police have been forced to use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse looters. The protest has turned into anarchy with police resources stretched.

Honiara residents are currently on lockdown, many without sufficient food supplies. Many are taking on social media, calling on the government for leniency for law abiding citizens that may wish to restock on supplies.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare declared a lockdown for Honiara staring at 7pm last night to 7am Friday 26 November 2021.

The protestors are mainly from Malaita province, the most populous province in Solomon Islands. They are demanding that the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare step down, fueled by tensions between the Suidani led Malaita provincial government and Sogavare’s national government.

Relations between Suidani and Sogavare soured when Sogavare switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China. Suidani was a staunch critic of the move, claiming that bribes were paid for the switch to China.

SOURCE: PACNEWS/SOLOMOM TIMES ONLINE