Australian food giant Goodman Fielder has temporarily closed its operations in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, because of the current levels of civil unrest as the country approaches its general elections on 5 December.

The Pacific country’s economy and infrastructure has been largely destroyed by the civil war and the effectiveness of the forthcoming poll is in doubt. Prime Minister, Manase Sogovare, has been in power following a coup in June 2000. The guerrilla group Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) relinquished power at that time but still effectively controls the country’s main island, Guadalcanal.

Corporate affairs director, Robert Hadler, explained to the Australian Associated Press: “We are…closing it until at least early January, until after the elections and Christmas […] We hope [that by then] things will have settled down and we will be able to resume normal operations.”

Garry Habel, MD of Goodman Fielder International, added that the decision was regrettable but unavoidable, but that disruptions to supply would be minimal as the company has stock on hand.

Goodman Fielder employs about 250 full time and casual staff in the Solomon Islands for the production of flour and bread.