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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 April 2006, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Six injured in Solomon protests
Snyder Rini
Newly appointed PM Snyder Rini is opposed by some
At least six Australian police officers have been injured in the Solomon Islands during violent election protests in the capital, Honiara.

Opponents of new Prime Minister Snyder Rini, a former cabinet minister tainted by corruption allegations, trapped him inside parliament for several hours.

Mr Rini was elected premier by other MPs in a secret ballot on Tuesday.

Protesters opposed to Mr Rini and other members of the previous government looted stores and torched buildings.

Government spokesman Johnson Honimae said the city's Chinatown area was "up in flames" and he had not seen such violence since the Solomons' 2000 coup.

MPs evacuated

In Tuesday's ballot, Mr Rini beat off two main rivals, former Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and Job Dudley Tausinga, leader of the new Rural Advancement Party.

Some 500 supporters of Mr Tausinga - who had led in the first round of voting - gathered around the parliament building following the announcement.

The MPs were kept inside as police in riot gear moved in to disperse the crowd amid reports of stone-throwing and looting.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark later said the officials had been escorted from the building by members of the Australian-led multinational peacekeeping team and local police.

"Earlier this evening they evacuated the new prime minister from parliament, where he and other government members of parliament had been barricaded for several hours by a violent crowd," Ms Clark said.

Poll losses

Mr Rini said he was committed to reconciliation and economic recovery and would continue to work with the multinational force deployed to maintain peace.

Former leader Allan Kemakeza decided to step down after only narrowly retaining his seat in the 5 April general election.

Mr Kemakeza's People's Alliance Party suffered losses in the polls following allegations of corruption among several ministers.

The elections were the first since an Australian-led force arrived to restore peace in the country in 2003.

Violence stirred up by local warlords had left hundreds dead and 20,000 displaced.




SEE ALSO:
New PM chosen by Solomon Islands
18 Apr 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Q&A: Solomon Islands vote
04 Apr 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Solomons warlord surrenders
13 Aug 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Solomons rebel jailed for murder
18 Mar 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Solomon Islands
03 Dec 05 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Solomon Islands
24 Mar 06 |  Country profiles


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