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Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands resigns

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April 27, 2006

Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands resigns

by Van Ferrier

Massive protests in the Solomon Islands' capital city have left much of Honiara's Chinatown in ruins and forced newly elected Prime Minister Snyder Rini from office, reports The Toronto Star. Over 200 Chinese residents have fled the violence that was sparked by claims of electoral corruption.

According to the Guardian, protesters believe Rini's election was heavily influenced by Taiwan and local Chinese businesses.

The Solomon Islands has become the subject of a diplomatic tug-ofwar between China and Taiwan in recent years, being waged with what the Associated Press calls "chequebook diplomacy." The Pacific island nation is one of Taiwan's 25 diplomatic allies, but China has been trying to lure it to its side.

Following his resignation announcement, Rini was escorted out of Parliament by heavily armed Australian police whose numbers have been increased since civil strife erupted in mid April.

Foreign security forces have been in the islands since 2003 to help end violence between rival islanders, although Sydney Indymedia says Australia's growing military presence in the islands has more to do with geopolitical interests than peacekeeping.

Rini will hold onto his post until lawmakers select a new Prime Minister.

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