Australia and Solomon Islands Security Forces Conduct Crowd Control Exercise Before Elections

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) assisted the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) in conducting a crowd control exercise in the leadup to the general elections on April 17th.

Joint Crowd Control Exercise

Approximately 175 personnel from the Australian Defence Force (ADF), the AFP, and the RSIPF participated in the event at Hells Point, located on the outskirts of the capital of Honiara.

The exercise involved the participants “quickly, efficiently, and safely” responding to an evolving security incident.

The commander of the AFP detachment, Heath Davies, said “the joint exercise was essential for an agile police force.” He also said that the “skills on display during this exercise show we are prepared and ready in the event we do have to manage any instance of public disorder.” Davies also said that the joint exercise was crucial “for an agile police force” and to “ensure the Joint Elections are carried out peacefully and community safety is maintained.”

The RSIPF commissioner, Mostyn Mangau, stated that “it was good to see the forces team up for the safety and security of the Joint Elections.” Mangau also said that the RSIPF has “strong support from our security partners and will respond appropriately to anyone who intends to disturb the Joint Elections.”

The crowd control exercise and the AFP and ADF’s deployment are part of Australia’s commitment to the Solomons’ International Assistance Force (SIAF). The SIAF was created in November 2021 after riots occurred in response to the Solomons’ decision to switch their diplomatic relationship from Taiwan to China.

Analysis

Australian and Solomons’ security forces conducted the joint exercise due to the potential for unrest to occur both during and after the elections. Furthermore, the potential for unrest is likely to occur if the opposition parties make allegations of voter fraud and other types of irregularities. One potential catalyst for potential unrest is if Ownership, Unity, Responsibility (OUR) party loyalists were to demonstrate at or near the voting sites. Another catalyst is if gangs connected to the various parties that make up the OUR party were to conduct voter intimidation or steal ballot boxes from the voting locations.

The reason why the OUR party would conduct various forms of voter fraud is to ensure the party gains a parliamentary majority by winning the most seats in the elections. The OUR party would need a majority of seats in the National Parliament to allow it to further increase its relationship with China and other policies favorable to the country. The election is also seen as a referendum on the political coalition’s handling of not only domestic issues such as increasing youth opportunities and fixing the country’s healthcare system but also its foreign policies, such as the government’s switch of recognition to China from Taiwan in 2019.

Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin the panda began Sino Talk in 2022 primarily to give an objective, unbiased view on China related topics as well as other issues related to the Indo-Pacific region. He spent several years studying and traveling throughout China and many countries in the Indo-Pacific region. In another life, the panda was also a U.S. Marine intelligence analyst who enjoyed bamboo MREs and drinking bourbon and soju. Indo-Pacific Division Desk Chief for Atlas News.

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