Malaita businessman, John Kwaita. PHOTO: Facebook profile
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POLICE yesterday charged prominent Malaitan John Kwaita in relation to the recent riots in Honiara before they released him on bail.

Kwaita, who is also President of the United Party, will front the Honiara Magistrate’s court on February 2, accused of being part of the three days of rioting and looting that left parts of Honiara in ruins.

He was arrested on Monday evening and kept overnight in police custody.

A police spokesman told the Island Sun last night Kwaita has been charged with unauthorised public assembly and public procession contrary to regulation 14(1) & (3) (a) of the emergency powers (COVID -19) (N0.3) 2021; regulation 4 of the emergency powers (COVID-19) (Declaration of Honiara as Emergency Zone (Amendment) Order 2020; section 21 (b) of the penal code.

“Yes, he was charged and released on bail to appear in court on 2 February 2022,” the spokesman said.

Kwaita becomes the first high profile Malaitan to have been arrested in relation to the recent rioting that left Chinatown and parts of Honiara in ruins.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has accused the Malaita Provincial Government and members of the Opposition Group in Parliament of planning and backing the protest that led to the riot.

He vowed police will hunt down those who are behind the riot.

Members of the Opposition have denied the accusation.

Police have so far arrested more than 200 youths, accusing them of taking part in the rioting and looting.

Kwaita’s arrest came a day after Opposition leader Mathew Wale called for police to investigate PM Sogavare’s alleged involvement in the abduction and planned executive of Northwest Guadalcanal MP Bodo Dettke and former West Kwaio MP late John Garo in 2000 at the height of the ethnic tension.

Sogavare has rejected the accusation in parliament last week during a no-confidence vote tabled against him.

Island Sun understands names of a number of high profiled Malaitans and members of the Opposition are in the police’s “arrest list”.