Australian forces are being deployed to the nearby Solomon Islands as protests stretched into a second day, even after a 36-hour lockdown was imposed, and frustration boils over in the capital of Honiara over a host of domestic grievances.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised to send roughly 120 soldiers and police officers for "a matter of weeks" to help quell the unrest that resulted in fires being set at Parliament and buildings in Chinatown, according to the Washington Post.
"Our purpose here is to provide stability and security to enable the normal constitutional processes in the Solomon Islands," Morrison said. "It is not the Australian government's intention in any way to intervene in the internal affairs of the Solomon Islands. That is for them to resolve."
The violence has been attributed, in part, to growing discontent over domestic issues, such as unfulfilled infrastructure promises. Many of the protesters traveled to the capital from the island of Malaita, where there is growing dismay with a 2019 decision by the nation to break diplomatic relations with Taiwan to establish ties with China, which claims the island democracy for itself.
Among the demands being made by protesters is a call for the resignation of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.
After buildings were set ablaze, Sogavare issued a statement labeling the riots as a "sad and unfortunate event aimed at bringing a democratically elected government down."
Lawmakers from Malaita issued a statement on Tuesday calling on protest leaders and Malaita's premier, Daniel Suidani, to refrain from unlawful activities.
"We have always been there to help our Pacific family when they have needed us, and this is such a time," Morrison said.
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