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Australia to send more troops to Solomon Islands to ‘boost security’

Canberra says it will deploy additional troops to be present during the November Pacific Games, as well as during the next elections.

  • Australia to boost security in Solomon Islands
    Australian Federal Police Special Operations members prepare to depart Canberra, Australia, for the Solomon Islands on a Royal Australian Air Force jet on November 25, 2021. (AP)

Canberra announced Sunday that it would deploy additional troops to the Solomon Islands to be present during the November Pacific Games, as well as during the country’s next elections.

Around 5,000 athletes from 24 countries are expected to compete in the Pacific Games, which begin on November 19, while the general elections are expected in early 2024.

Read more: Solomons says Australian offer to fund election ‘inappropriate’

Australia first deployed troops in Honiara in November 2021, along with Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand.

According to a statement by an Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson, Australia extended its “contribution to the Solomons International Assistance Force (SIAF) until June 2024 to assist with security for the national general elections,” in addition to deploying additional security personnel “to support the Pacific Games in Honiara.”

The spokesperson also expressed pride that Australia is the “Solomon Islands’ primary security partner.”

In July, the Island’s Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare put Australia’s security pact with the Island under review, inking a deal with China allowing it to maintain police presence in the nation until 2025.

While the deployment step comes after Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare announced in March 2022 signing a new pact with Beijing, allowing China to maintain a police presence in the developing South Pacific nation until 2025, the security pact with Australia was put under review by Sogavare in June, stoking fears it was drifting closer to China’s orbit.

In August last year, Sogavare announced that a ban on foreign military vessels docking in the Solomon Islands applies to “all countries in the world,” after news broke out that a United States Coast Guard ship was not allowed to refuel at the country’s port.

In June 2022, China’s Police Liason Team began training the Solomon Islands police force, as the Island announced its security challenges were evolving.

Read more: Solomon Islands PM slams criticism of China security deal as ‘very insulting’

Read More:Australia to send more troops to Solomon Islands to ‘boost security’