Australia is sending additional troops to the Solomon Islands, as more
Chinese nationals fled the country on Sunday amid rising tensions before
parliament opens for the first time since post-election rioting.
Chinese people wait to be escorted to Honiara airport in the wake of
recent violence against the Chinese community April 23, 2006.
The election of new Prime Minister Snyder Rini sparked two days of rioting
last week in the capital Honiara, where a curfew has been imposed. A
peacekeeping force from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji is patrolling the
About 50 soldiers from New Zealand arrived on Sunday.
Australia's Defence Minister Brendan Nelson said on Sunday another platoon of
25 soldiers would be sent to the Solomons to guard the airport, joining 300
military personnel in Honiara. Two patrol boats would arrive this week, he told
About 150¡¡Chinese people were airlifted out of Honiara on Sunday, travelling
to the airport under heavy security in the back of three small trucks. They will
join 90 Chinese who were flown to Papua New Guinea on Saturday on a Beijing
chartered aircraft and will eventually be repatriated to China.
PARLIAMENT LOCKED DOWN
The military will lock down the Solomons parliament on Monday when MPs meet
for the first time since an election earlier this month. That poll was the first
since Australian-led peacekeepers restored law and order in 2003 after violent
Opposition parties have already moved a no-confidence motion against Rini,
which is due to go to a vote on Wednesday. Both sides claim they have the
numbers to be successful.
Church leaders appealed to congregations on Sunday for calm and asked looters
to return what they had stolen.
"As soon as the Chinese have the courage to open their doors again, they
should go in and shake their hands and say sorry," Catholic Archbishop Adrian
Smith told Honiara's packed Holy Cross church.
Honiara's Chinatown was destroyed in the rioting and looting, with buildings
burnt to the ground, forcing some Chinese to jump from windows and flee across a
nearby river. The Chinese number just a few thousand in the Solomons'
"I hope there no more violence this week, because it will make the whole
country's economy a lot worse," said Moon Pinkwan, 55, whose shop was burnt