Solomons' prime minister resigns

The Solomon Islands prime minister whose election last week sparked two days of rioting and looting in the capital resigned Wednesday just ahead of Parliament's expected vote of no-confidence in the leader.

Snyder Rini's links to corruption-tainted politicians and unsubstantiated rumors that he funded his campaign with money from Taiwan or China, rivals in a contest for diplomatic allies, sparked anti-Asian riots that reduced Honiara's Chinatown to rubble.

Rini told the chamber on Wednesday that he was quitting so that fellow lawmakers "can come together so this country can go forward."

The announcement triggered jubilation on the streets of Honiara, with several hundred traders and shoppers at the city's central market cheering and waving palm fronds.

"People are very excited that Rini has gone (and) are looking forward to getting rid of the old leaders in the old government," said 38-year-old farmer Samson Maneka, as cars drove by tooting their horns.

Lawmakers will now have to vote in a secret ballot for a replacement, and the opposition on Wednesday chose former Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare as their sole candidate for the prime minister's post, making him the likely front-runner.

Sogavare said Wednesday he would consider severing ties with Taiwan if elected, saying it was time for the Solomons to join the majority of the international community in supporting Beijing.

Asked whether there would be a review of the Solomons' link with Taiwan, Sogavare told The Associated Press: "Of course,"reports the AP.

I.L.