Solomon Islands ousts official who is critical of close relations with China

Daniel Suidani, the premier of Malaita, pictured outside his office in Auki on Oct. 03, 2021. A longtime critic of the country's deepening relations with China, Suidani was removed from office on Feb. 2023 after a no-confidence vote by the provincial legislature.
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A vocal critic of China and leader of the most populous province in the Solomon Islands has been removed from office after a no-confidence vote by the provincial legislature on Tuesday, Australian state broadcaster ABC reported.

Daniel Suidani, premier of the South Pacific nation's Malaita province, is a longtime critic of the country's deepening relations with China, which culminated in a security pact signed last April. He has banned Chinese companies from the province and accepted development aid from the United States.

Malaita's provincial assembly ousted Suidani in a unanimous vote on Tuesday, said the ABC.

China security pact with Solomon Islands raises alarm
China security pact with Solomon Islands raises alarm

Police fired tear gas into a crowd of more than 100 after a scuffle in which stones were thrown at police, said eyewitness Samie Waikori, a reporter with Island Sun News. Waikori said protesters, all Suidani supporters, had dispersed and that things are calm.

No injuries have been reported. Flights are delayed in Auki, the capital of Malaita, the ABC reported.

Residents of Malaita opposed the decision by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare's government in 2019 to formally recognize China instead of Taiwan.

Violent protests broke out in the capital, Honiara, in 2021 after Sogavare refused to meet residents from Malaita who had traveled to the city.