16 Nov 2011

Solomons' police quell riot over new PM

7:48 pm on 16 November 2011

Police in Solomon Islands are maintaining a bolstered presence on the streets of Honiara after quelling a riot following the election of Gordon Darcy Lilo as Prime Minister.

Businesses in the capital shut their doors soon after it was announced that Mr Lilo had won the parliamentary vote to replace Danny Philip as Prime Minister.

Protesters, including a group of Malaitans, had threatened to continue their riot in central Honiara, where some businesses were damaged, if Mr Lilo did not step down.

A Radio New Zealand International correspondent says a group of mainly opportunists began clashing with the police response team on Wednesday afternoon.

He says although protesters numbered about 500, to about 20 police, the riot police prevailed after pushing them uphill and shooting about eight canisters of teargas into them.

He says at least one police officer was injured, when he was hit with a rock.

Mr Lilo was one of the five candidates to contest Wednesday's vote in Parliament, after the sudden resignation of former Prime Minister Danny Philip last week. Mr Philip had sacked Mr Lilo from Cabinet earlier in the week.

Mr Lilo had the support of 29 of the 49 MPs.

The Solomons Star newspaper reports the Malaita Masina Forum had had police permission to mount a protest.

Another RNZI correspondent says Malaitans feel that because Mr Lilo is from the western side of the country, a lot of projects have been diverted to the Western Province and Malaita is not seeing any more development.