THE long shadow of fear which gripped Honiara prior to the outbreak of the so-called ethnic tension some two decades ago returned on Monday as a group demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare stood firm on their demand.
Members of the group, numbering in their hundreds assembled in various parts of the city, including the Kukum Soccer pitch.
Witnesses said the crowd spilled into the roads down to the Kukum Traffic Police station.
There were similar gatherings in White River as well as in various parts of the city.
They were all waiting for police clearance to march to the Prime Minister’s Office in downtown Honiara to present their petition calling on the Prime Minister to step down.
As a result, shops, government offices and the COVID-19 field hospital in Chinatown, among others closed down for fear of a riot. One hotel locked up its gate while staff monitor the situation.
While the situation had calmed down, there were concerns that trouble could flare-up anytime.
The Solomon Star was on the ground and witnessed few Malaitan leaders and members of the Solomon Islands Police Force tried to calm the whole situation.
Calming the crowd Knoxley Atu told the Malaitans gathered on Monday at Kukum to allow them to follow the right process.
He showed the letter containing the petition and request for a peaceful march in line of the 14 days’ notice.
The letter showed that 8, 210 Malaitans in Honiara signed the petition but Atu said the letter was questioned by Prime Minister’s Office because it does not have proper address as contact person.
“Therefore I include some of the names including myself as the responsible person to be contacted by PMO and this letter will also include additional signatures which was signed yesterday and today,” Atu said.
The letter was also copied to the Governor General’s Office, RSIPF, Lord Mayor and Leader of the Opposition.
According to the petition summary the people of Malaita province residing in and around Honiara observe the stand-off situation between the DCGA Sogavare led government and the MARA government of Malaita with grave concern over the way DCGA continued exerting unnecessary treatment towards MARA and the people of Malaita.
It also stated that they are of the strong belief that DCGA government is not serving the interest of Malaita Province and Solomon Islands and this is evident in the following manner.
- That the DCGA leg government failed to consult to secure consent of our people of Malaita for the diplomatic switch from ROC to the PRC.
- That the DCGA government through its minister of aviation intends to bring to Cabinet a Cabinet paper seeking approval to withdraw the SIIRAP World Bank Project from Malaita.
- That the DCGA continually harassed the MARA led government of Malaita through individuals, the media and even abusing the legal system which to date has been futile.
- Corruption in the logging, fisheries and mining industries and throughout the entire government system has become the new normal under the DCGA
- The DCGA led government facilitated high influx of Asians and Chinese heap labourers taking over all business activities from Tenaru in the east to the west in Honiara replacing jobs and business opportunities that Malaitans and other Solomon Islanders resulting in the highest unemployment rate in Solomon Islands history.
- Giving rise to Malaita residing in Honiara and in Malaita systematically marginalised in economic and development opportunities.
Some commentators told the Solomon Star that the government led by Sogavare must be very careful in addressing these issues because it’s not only the Malaitans who wants to see DCGA must change or step out from leadership.
“The government must start and listen to the ordinary citizens,” one commentator said yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Malaitans leaders controlling the crowd yesterday must be praised for their leadership to calm the crowd who most of them a youths.
By ANDREW FANASIA