NZDF, police being sent to Solomon Islands amid unrest

Source: 1News

New Zealand Defence Force personnel and police will be sent to the Solomon Islands amid growing unrest in the capital, Honiara.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the deployment will occur over "the coming days".

“New Zealand is committed to its responsibilities and playing its part in upholding regional security,” Ardern said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

“We are deeply concerned by the recent civil unrest and rioting in Honiara, and following yesterday’s request of the Solomon Islands Government, we have moved quickly to provide urgent assistance to help restore sustained peace and security."

Defence Minister Peeni Henare said an initial NZDF assessment team of approximately 15 personnel would deploy on Thursday, followed by a larger group of up to 50 NZDF and police on the weekend.

“NZDF personnel will support the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) in maintaining stability, engaging with communities and providing public reassurance,” Henare said.

READ MORE: Solomon Islands asks NZ for assistance amid ongoing unrest

The unrest was sparked by Malaitans angered over a perceived lack of development in the province, as well as the Government’s decision to switch diplomatic allegiances from Taiwan to China.

READ MORE: Rioting and looting intensify in Solomon Islands political protests

Protesters have since called on Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to resign.

The deployment comes after the Solomon Islands Government formally requested New Zealand’s assistance on Tuesday.