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From the late 1990s Solomon Islands had been moving towards the status of a ‘failed state’. Corruption was widespread and there was considerable resentment expressed by Guadalcanal people towards immigrants from the neighbouring island of Malaita. Conflict over this issue led to the coup of 5 June 2000 and the installation of a pro-Malaitan government. The political system in Solomon Islands proved incapable of stemming corruption and combating the increasing level of criminal behaviour. Once it became clear that the Solomon Islands parliament and people were receptive to intervention, Australia organized a regional force that was deployed from late July 2003. International legitimacy came from the support of the Pacific Islands Forum. The intervention emphasized the restoration of ‘law and order’ through policing, but with a strong military backup. In the long term issues of governance and social and economic development will need to be addressed. Political leadership from within Solomon Islands will be crucial in determining whether external intervention can assist with these matters.

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