Sydney, Australia, Dec 1 (EFE).- New Zealand said Wednesday that it would send 75 police personnel and soldiers to the Solomon Islands to help maintain stability in the wake of deadly anti-government protests in the Pacific Island nation.
Approximately 15 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel will be deployed on Thursday, while another 50 NZDF and New Zealand Police members will follow over the weekend “to help restore peace and stability,” the New Zealand government said in a statement.
“New Zealand is committed to its responsibilities and playing its part in upholding regional security,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, adding that the deployment was in response to a request for assistance by the Solomon Islands government.
The New Zealand government said its security forces would work to support Solomon Islands’ police on a “short-term” basis.
New Zealand’s announcement comes after Australia deployed over 60 personnel to the Solomon Islands last week and Fiji another 50 troops to help maintain security.
Violence erupted on the Solomon Islands on Nov.24 after some 1,000 people, mainly from the country’s most populous Malaita province, protested to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who in 2019 ended 36 years of diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of China.
As tempers rose, the police tried to quash riots in the vicinity of the parliament using tear gas and rubber bullets.
Protesters also pelted stones at and torched and looted Chinese businesses.
Following the riots, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China was “gravely concerned over the attacks on (its) citizens and enterprises” and had asked the “local government to take all measures necessary to protect the safety of (its) nationals and institutions.”
The Solomon Islands, one of the poorest countries in the region, is made up of almost 1,000 islands and has a population of close to 650,000 inhabitants, most of them of Melanesian origin.
There are also descendants of the Polynesian, Micronesia, and Chinese ethnic groups. EFE