Prime minister takes oath in secrecy
HONIARA — The Solomon Islands secretly swore in new Prime Minister Snyder Rini yesterday as Australian troops and police patrolled the country’s blackened capital after two days of rioting sparked by his election.
Australia said it was committed to restoring law and order in the troubled South Pacific island chain to prevent it becoming a failed state and possible haven for terrorism.
Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty said about 70 people had been arrested after the riots and looting, much of it targeted at Chinese-owned businesses and shops.
Violence erupted Tuesday after Mr. Rini was named as the new leader. Rioters claimed his new government would be heavily influenced by local Chinese businessmen and Taiwan, which the Solomons recognizes in place of mainland China. The government says Mr. Rini would only resign if a vote of no confidence is passed by parliament.
Travelers warned of Indonesia attacks
SYDNEY — The government warned its citizens yesterday of a possibly imminent attack on Westerners in Indonesia, saying that terrorists were in advanced stages of preparing strikes.
“Recent reports suggest Thursday, 20 April 2006, could be a potential date for attack, but we emphasize that attacks could occur at any time, anywhere in Indonesia,” the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in an updated travel warning on its Web site.
It advised Australians to reconsider traveling to Indonesia, including the popular holiday island of Bali, because of “the very high threat of terrorist attack,” and urged those already there to consider leaving.
ASEAN ministers welcome France pact
TAMPAKSIRING — Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, meeting in the resort of Bali, yesterday welcomed France’s willingness to accede to ASEAN’s nonaggression pact known as the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.
The treaty, adopted by ASEAN in 1976 and since amended to allow countries outside the region to join, commits signatories to noninterference in each other’s internal affairs, renunciation of the threat or use of force, and settlement of disputes by peaceful means. France would become the first European nation to accede to the treaty, which has already been joined by China, Japan, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, India and Pakistan.
Weekly notes …
Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian criticized China’s one-party rule yesterday, saying people on the self-ruled island that Beijing also claims will not accept unification unless it embraces democracy. Chinese President Hu Jintao, currently visiting the United States, is expected to seek assurances that Washington will give no leeway to independence-leaning Mr. Chen. Speaking at a carefully timed meeting with Chinese pro-democracy activists, Mr. Chen said: “We do not oppose the Chinese people, what we oppose is the Chinese Communist Party, its one-party, authoritarian rule.”
From wire dispatches and staff reports