STAND-OFF IN AUKI - Solomon Star News


03 September 2020
Auki police patrolling the streets of Auki on Wednesday.

THE Malaita Provincial Capital of Auki came to a standstill on Wednesday morning after a protest notice was issued to all Chinese to leave Auki within 24 hours.

Malaita for Democracy (M4D) movement issued the evacuation notice demanding them to close their doors and leave the province.

The issued notice clearly stated that the move is part of the stand against China's dealings within the country and in response to non-compliance by the government of the day following numerous calls by citizens to suspend the direct flight to China on Tuesday this week. 

Shop keepers arrived behind closed doors as Chinese shop owners closed their shops in fear that something bad might happen to them after the pressure group mobilized in Auki town following the notice.

Only locally owned shops opened at 8 am while all Chinese operated shops closed for fear of their safety.

Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) in Auki acted promptly and resolved the standoff which resulted in an understanding that led to the reopening of Chinese shops at around 10:30 am on Wednesday morning. 

Police officers were mobilized in numbers both on foot and in vehicles to maintain calm and monitor the situation.

Local security officers working under the province also conducted patrol along Auki as well.

Whilst police were engaged with the public, PPC Auki, M4D, and Chinese representatives were locked up in talks with the Malaita Provincial Secretary to resolve the issue at the Auki Police Station.

According to Police Operational Commander Charles Eddie Koto, what seemed to trigger the whole situation was the fear of COVID-19. 

He said the knowledge that some Auki based Chinese will be returning via the controversial China flight has caused fear amongst M4D and the public of Auki which eventually triggered the whole situation.

Inspector Koto thanked the Malaita public for not taking advantage of the situation yesterday.

He said the standoff was resolved in a friendly manner.

No one was arrested and no one was hurt in the standoff as the situation is returning to normal.  

Meanwhile, Malaita for Democracy (M4D), Chinese reps, Police, and Malaita Provincial Government will today sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today to sort out the issue.

Inspector Koto said the MOU will allow a framework for the two parties, together with the provincial government, and police to monitor what they agreed on to ensure such stand-off will not happen in the future.  

He said the fact that some Chinese who resided in Auki were on the China flight has triggered the factor which forced M4D to act the manner it did.

One of the main points in the MOU that they will be signed today is to ban Chinese residing in Auki who were also on the China flight from entering Malaita for a certain period until they are cleared from the Covid-19 threat.