30 Nov 2010

Panic in Solomons capital as youths rampage

7:31 pm on 30 November 2010

The sentencing of a Solomon Islands cabinet Minister today sparked chaos in the capital Honiara after supporters of the former militant caused a disturbance.

Jimmy Lusibaea's supporters began throwing stones at police outside the High Court after he was sentenced to two years and nine months jail for charges related to the ethnic tensions.

Police brought the disturbance under control but rampaging by different groups of youths quickly spread into the centre of the city.

Our correspondent, Dorothy Wickham, says it sparked panic among businesspeople and shoppers.

"The whole town went into a bit of a panic and people were running around because the police were moving in to try and control that little spot of trouble just outside the court. We have a lot of unemployed youths here and they're the ones I see on the street now, all these young people. There were a lot of people arrested this morning and most of them were very young boys who are going around causing all the problems."

Meanwhile, Regional Assistance Mission, or RAMSI, officers remain on alert alongside local police in Honiara for any further outbreak of unrest.

Dorothy Wickham says local communities are fed up with the criminal elements who cause the problems.

I think this is where the local police and RAMSI must use local intelligence on the ground. There are a lot of Solomon Islanders who don't like what is going on and I'm pretty sure they will work closely with police to ensure they have the right information... if they're listening. It will make a difference if they listen to the local people.

Dorothy Wickham