Solomons unrest erupts as MPs leave parliament in rebellion

Image copyright AFP Image caption Correspondents from The Associated Press and Reuters witnessed the disturbance

Fresh violent protests have erupted in Solomon Islands amid widespread calls for a general election.

Many opposition MPs left parliament before a vote was set to take place in anger over a perceived loss of favour in a ministerial portfolio.

Meanwhile in the Solomons, they have blocked roads to various areas and some people are refusing to board flights to mainland.

This is despite the prime minister – responding to the unrest – announcing on Friday night that general elections were being postponed indefinitely.

Reuters reports at least half a dozen companies have closed their factories amid the unrest, and some flights have been cancelled.

Thousands of people marched through the capital Honiara on Friday calling for an immediate general election.

The protests followed a cabinet reshuffle that saw Communications and Infrastructure Minister Konatalo Salu land a Cabinet position.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has not commented on the shake-up.

A source told the Associated Press that it came as the prime minister believed Mr Salu wanted to defect to a rival party, and that other MPs are considering doing the same.

Reuters said there were reports that several thousand protesters had taken to the streets of Honiara.

The unrest comes as National Election Commission Chair Conroy Pangilai urged calm, saying people were angry over the leadership of Mr Sogavare.

Mr Pangilai said the government had not declared a state of emergency but warned that cabinet ministers who participate in the unrest will be suspended and prosecuted.

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