Hundreds of protesters storm Marshall Islands’ government buildings, loot government property

(FoxNews) — Several thousand protesters are marching peacefully in the Marshall Islands, but several hundred government workers who stopped work on Sunday night are now gone.

The news comes after massive looting and destruction across the country as calls grow for the removal of the speaker of parliament and other political leaders.

The prime minister has asked all public servants to stay home and suggested to employees who do go to work to volunteer to take the day off. He said the action of workers who stayed late Sunday was an egregious breach of the law and thus contributed to the public’s discontent with the country’s leadership.

He promised the government will find compensation for those affected by the damage and to work with civil servants to restore essential services.

The speaker of parliament, himself the island’s only member of its legislature, condemned the behavior of government workers in a social media post.

“We are sick and tired of many of our elected officials violating rule of law and running the Marshall Islands into chaos to their advantage,” Fulvio Pajiliai said.

The violence began after Sunday afternoon prayers, with hundreds of people trashing hundreds of shops, police cars and other public property across the country.

Pajiliai and President Hilda Heine were cut from office after losing popular support in last month’s election. The U.S. has a security treaty with the Marshall Islands that guarantees military protection but is not attached to trade agreements.

Three years ago, rioters also attacked police and government facilities, and burned down the country’s two largest hotels.

Protesters have called for the nation’s elected leaders to resign. They took to the streets in 2014 to protest a lack of progress on the redevelopment of two active volcanoes near Majuro, the capital.

It was the third protest over the weekend against the country’s traditional democratic structure – known as a coalition government and led by a prime minister selected by parliament.

The country of 55,000 people has no permanent inhabitants, except military personnel and their dependents, who rotate through for a month every six years.

No one was reported injured during the protests, but media outlets reported police responded to requests for assistance from landowners and landowners of lands confiscated by the prime minister for construction on the country’s only deep water harbor.

Shovels and power tools were seen leaving the site on a fishing island.

Looters also stole furniture and other items from homes, often stealing them off porches. Police told local radio stations that a landlord was shot and wounded.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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