19 Apr 2006

Mob besieges parliament after election of new Solomons prime minister

10:54 am on 19 April 2006

The Solomon Islands' newly elected prime minister was trapped inside parliament for several hours yesterday after hundreds of protesters burnt cars, clashed with police and looted shops following his election.

Attempts by local police to curb the protest were blocked when protestors threw stones at them.

Three Chinese owned shops including the Wings Super Market, a premier shopping centre in Honiara were looted.

Attempts by several prominent leaders including former Prime Ministers Bartholomew Ulufa'alu and Manasseh Sogavare and Speaker of Parliament Sir Peter Kenilorea to calm the protestors were unsuccessful.

The trouble began shortly after Snyder Rini, deputy prime minister in the previous government, won a parliamentary ballot and was named the country's new prime minister.

News of Mr Rini's election sparked immediate protests, with up to 400 people gathering at parliament demanding his resignation.

The mob threw rocks at a police vehicle when Police including a riot squad from the Australian Federal Police evacuated him from the parliament house.

Several cars were burnt outside parliament.

Australian police say at least six of their officers were injured during the protests.