Solomon Islands politicians want diplomatic relations with Taiwan


Taipei, Taiwan — The head of the most populous state in the Solomon Islands was the capital of last month with looting and fierce protests.

Malaita Prime Minister Daniel Suidani said Friday that he believes the Solomon Islands should partner with Taiwan because they share democratic values.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavale angered many, especially Malaita leaders, in 2019 and cut off diplomatic relations with Taiwan to recognize China instead. Mr. Suidani said the switch was made without sufficient consultation with the general public.

The Solomon Islands faced fierce protests and anxieties last week as long-term tensions over economic problems boiled. The Capitol, police station, and businesses were set on two turbulent days when police couldn’t control the mob because it destroyed part of the capital.

The controversy over the country’s foreign policy is just one of several issues at hand.

Suidani called for domestic dialogue to resolve the problems that are causing ongoing anxiety in his country, saying that the reason for the violence was not foreign intervention, but long-standing domestic issues regarding economic and land rights. ..

He said corruption, unemployment, informal settlements, or increased slums are one of the major factors leading to recent violence. He also accused the central government of blocking the economic development of Malaita. He supports further protests on Monday, but said he encourages people to do it through the “legal way.”

In 2020, the US government promised Malaita a $ 25 million aid package. This is seen as an attempt to gain influence on Malaita Island. Suidani, who wore a red T-shirt with the USAID logo on the front on Friday, said the package was a request from the Solomon Islands government.

He said he had received COVID-19 protective equipment and medical equipment from Taiwan during the pandemic, but denied receiving financial assistance from Taiwan.

If Malaita does not get the desired results in Monday’s distrust resolution, the Prime Minister said independence may be an option.

“Malaita and its people need to dig deeper to see if it’s worth staying in the Solomon Islands,” he said.

By Huizhong Wu

Associated Press