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Refugees likely after Solomons violence

Australia is bracing itself for an influx of refugees from the Solomon Islands as violence continues to sweep the country on the back of Prime Minister Snyder Rini’s controversial election win last week. Ethnic Chinese in the region are being targeted after Mr Rini was accused of buying votes with money from the Taiwanese embassy and local and overseas Chinese businessmen. Solomon Islands Chinese Association vice president Shilling Wong said there were serious doubts local police or the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands could protect the Chinese community in coming years. Australian Prime Minister John Howard sent a further 220 Australian troops and 70 Australian Federal Police officers to the Pacific nation late last week to further boost the RAMSI mission – which includes police and troops from New Zealand and Fiji – to 800 personnel. Mr Rini’s political opponents are confident a no-confidence motion will be passed in parliament this week to oust him from office. Years of rumours about official corruption under the previous government – of which Mr Rini was deputy prime minister – fuelled the backlash against the ethnic Chinese, who dominate the local retail trade.

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