onsdag 2. september 2020

S olomon Islands province announces independence vote amid China tensions

The largest province in Solomon Islands has announced plans for an independence referendum as tensions with the country’s national government over China policy rise. Malaita, a province of 200,000 people in the country’s east, “will soon conduct a provincial-wide referendum on the topic of independence”, a statement from premier Daniel Suidani said on Tuesday.

In a phone interview with the Guardian, Suidani confirmed the plan, saying a vote would be held as soon as this month. The referendum plan comes after a year of tensions between Suidani’s provincial government, which is supportive of Taiwan, and Solomon Islands’ national government which has adopted a pro-Beijing stance. The internal division over China policy falls along similar cultural, ethnic and political fault lines that led to civil unrest in Solomon Islands between 1998 and 2003, resulting in a fourteen year Australian-led peacekeeping mission which concluded in 2017.