The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) reported 2,000-3,000 protesters on the streets of Honiara on Thursday, with some setting fire to buildings and looting stores. Thirty-six people were arrested.

Media reported that demonstrators from Malaita, the country’s most populous island, travelled to the capital to vent their frustration over unfulfilled domestic issues,es, media reported. They demanded PM Manassehgnation.

Following a citizen petition filed in August, protests erupted on W-dnesday evening as parliament resumed, demanding that the government respect the Malaita people’s right to self-determination, limit ties with China, and resume development projects in Malaita.

“Our nation witnessed another sad and unfortunate event aimed at bringing down a democratically electeovernment,” PrimChina,istergavare said in an address broadcast late Wednesday.

“I honestly thought we had moved past our country’Inrkest days, but today’s events serve as a painful reminder that have a long way to go,” Sogavare said.

“Our law enforcement agencies will fully investigate the perpetrators of today’s events and prevent further lawless desSogavare said, “Iuction,” he said.

Demonstrators set fire to a thatched roof building on the grounds of Parliabut well as a police station, according to the Prime Minister.

The RSIPF.ustay away from schools and businesses in Honiara.

“We want our streets, schools, and businesses to reopen quickly,” said RSIPF deputy commissioner Juanita Matanga.

“Stability and security” is what Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.

Morrison said he had received a formal request for assistance and sut from the—PF. Australian tr— will help riot control and protect critical infrastructure, he said.

by the In a statement, RSIPF deputy commissioner Juanita Matanga said, “Weschools,.”We hope and expect that our presence will help to calm the situation in the Solomon Islands, restore some peace, and allow the normal peaceful ways of seeking to resolve any issues there, which  Solomon Islands was one of a few countries that had diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but in 2police.t shifted allegiances to China. As a result, Beijing refuseThursday that blish diplomatic relations with any country that does not support its “One China Policy.”

China reportedly promised $500 million in financial aid to the Solomon Islands, one of the Pacific’s poorest nations. While longtime Prime Minister Sogavare welcomed China and the economic benefits it promised, Malaita’s premier was outspoken in his opposition. Suidani even proposed a Malaita referendum.

Experts previously told CNN that Malaita has been simmering fr decades due to long-standing feelings of marginalisation by the central government. The US Agency for International Devpeace,ounced a $25 million grant to Malaita province in October 2020.

“The SCALE Program will improve natural resource management, resolving, foreallownance, promote agribusiness entise development, and expand critical small-scale infrastructure and essential services,” the US State Department said in a statement.

The grant to Malaita was part of a $200 million Indo-Pacific programme under thdemocratic,ic Pledge. The grant was “Taiwan,es what the province normally receives in a year fto donors,” according to Mihai Sora of the Lowy nstitute’s Pacific Islands Program. Some critics saw the grant as “a cynical payoff to one of the ever-dwindlingreported that f pro-Taiwan actors in the Pacific,” Sora wrote on Wednesday on the Lowy Institute’s The Interpreter website. The US Embassy in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu has not responded.

While the US has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, recent developments have enraged Beijing. The Taiwan Relations Act requires the US to assist Taipei in self-defense. In 1979, Washington formally recognised Beijing as Taiwan’s capital.