UPDATE 1-Solomon Islands ousts official critical of close relations with China - ABC

(Adds detail on protest, pars 3-5)

SYDNEY, Feb 7 (Reuters) - A vocal critic of China and leader of the most populous province in the Solomon Islands has been removed from office after a no-confidence vote by the provincial legislature on Tuesday, Australian state broadcaster ABC reported.

Daniel Suidani, premier of the South Pacific nation's Malaita province, is a longtime critic of the country's deepening relations with China, which culminated in a security pact signed last April. He has banned Chinese companies from the province and accepted development aid from the United States.

Malaita's provincial assembly ousted Suidani in a unanimous vote on Tuesday, said the ABC.

Police fired tear gas into crowds after more than 100 protesters tried to pass through a cordon following the vote, the ABC added. Protesters demanded the assembly keep Suidani in office.

No injuries have been reported. Flights are delayed in Auki, the capital of Malaita, the ABC reported.

Residents of Malaita opposed the decision by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare's government in 2019 to formally recognise China instead of Taiwan.

Violent protests broke out in the capital, Honiara, in 2021 after Sogavare refused to meet residents from Malaita who had travelled to the city. (Reporting by Lewis Jackson. Editing by Gerry Doyle)