Image: Snyder Rini
Rob Griffith  /  AP file
Prime Minister Snyder Rini leaves parliament on Monday in Honiara, Solomon Islands, after losing support.
updated 4/25/2006 8:21:55 PM ET 2006-04-26T00:21:55

The new Solomon Islands prime minister whose election last week sparked two days of rioting and looting in the archipelago’s capital resigned Wednesday after losing support in parliament.

Snyder Rini announced his resignation just before lawmakers in the South Pacific nation were due to vote on a motion of no confidence in the prime minister. He told members of parliament he was quitting “so all MPs can come together so this country can go forward.”

The lawmakers now will have to vote in a secret ballot for Rini’s replacement. There was no date immediately set for a vote.

On Monday, members of the public were banned from the parliament building in an attempt to head off a repeat of the rioting sparked by rumors that either China or Taiwan had paid lawmakers to elect Rini, who served in a previous administration accused of corruption.

Beijing and Taipei vehemently deny having any influence on Rini’s election, but a widespread belief among many locals that both governments may have meddled has prompted a general anti-Asian backlash.

The Solomon Islands, an impoverished archipelago of nearly a half million people located about 1,900 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia, are caught in a competition for diplomatic influence between China and Taiwan, which split in 1949.

The archipelago is one of Taiwan’s 25 diplomatic allies, but China has been trying to lure it to its side.

Arsonists, looters and rioters largely targeting ethnic Chinese last week inflicted tens of millions of dollars in damage on the capital’s Chinatown district.

Since the rioting, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji have boosted police and troop numbers in the capital, Honiara, to more than 1,050 to restore law and order.

Foreign security forces have been in the islands since 2003 to help end violence between rival islanders.

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