Dramatic protest pictures

The violent protests that have plagued the Solomon Islands are continuing, and frustration is growing among residents.

Police reported 21 minor injuries and 23 arrests as the lockdown was lifted on Wednesday.

Despite the two-week-old stopgap ban on public gatherings and rallies, protesters have continued to gather in what officials describe as a festive atmosphere.

“Many people, but not all, have been able to go out and assemble their own groups on their own as was customary,” said Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) spokesperson Guyon Espiner.

“Many have been caught up in looting, among other things, but that is not a RAMSI concern. It is the responsibility of the Solomon Islands authorities to deal with that.”

Public anger over government corruption and mismanagement of state resources forced the temporary crackdown and the sacking of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in early July.

Espiner said RAMSI planned to maintain a presence in Solomon Islands even if it was not on the ground in the capital.

“A lot of my thoughts right now are focused on ensuring that RAMSI presence is still necessary even if there is no RAMSI forces in Solomon Islands,” he said.

“We are planning to assess the situation and make a decision and then provide that to Prime Minister Sogavare. He has been very gracious in allowing RAMSI to continue operating for some time. If we need to provide short-term support then RAMSI forces will certainly be deployed in Solomon Islands in short order.”

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