30 Nov 2010

Serious disruptions in Solomons after Lusibaea jailing

2:31 pm on 30 November 2010

A Solomon Islands cabinet minister and former militia leader, Jimmy Lusibaea, has been sentenced to two years jail, sparking violence from his supporters in Honiara.

The sentence follows a guilty plea to counts of unlawfully wounding another person and assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duties during the ethnic tensions.

Our correspondent in Honiara, Dorothy Wickham, says business operators in Honiara have been leaving their shops to avoid the angry mob.

"Exact numbers it is hard to tell at this point because the town is too closed up and the traffic is all clogging up. I am still trying to figure it out. I am going to be trying to head back inwards but it's very difficult with all the traffic jampacked on the road and they are all heading in the one direction, both lanes, so I can't get into town. I was in the centre of town and the force of the traffic forced me to turn around and come back. So I am going to try and go back in again and see if I am able to tell what is going on, maybe from a hill top or something. 'From what you do know would you characterise it as a riot? Well basically I can tell you that nobody is following any basic rules at the moment. The traffic has gone mad, everyone is running on the streets. Some of them might just be in a panic - the whole central market, everybody just stood up and suddenly, left all their goods and took off. Nobody wanted to be sitting with their foodstuffs and money and all the traffic has just turned around in the middle of the road, so it would be very close to a riot. Now damaging of shops and stuff is the one I have to verify. I need to get closer to the centre of town and find out and verify whether they are actually damaging stuff."

Dorothy Wickham says additional troops were flown into the country yesterday from Australia.