Ailing Somare resigns as PNG leader

By Pacific correspondent Campbell Cooney, staff

Updated 1 hour 12 minutes ago

The 75-year-old leader underwent heart surgery earlier this year in a Singapore hospital.

Papua New Guinea’s veteran prime minister Sir Michael Somare has stepped down from office and will retire from politics because of ill health.

The 75-year-old leader underwent heart surgery earlier this year in a Singapore hospital.

Since then, he has repeatedly denied speculation he is seriously ill.

But Sir Michael’s son, Arthur, told a press conference in Port Moresby his father remains critically ill following the surgery.

He said his father had made the decision to permanently step down from the prime minister’s office and leave PNG politics.

The decision ends a political career which began nearly 50 years ago, and saw Sir Michael appointed as Papua New Guinea’s first prime minister when the country gained independence from Australia in 1975.

In April, Sir Michael served a two-week suspension from office after he was found guilty of official misconduct.

He vowed to return to the prime minister’s office after the suspension, but instead remained in Singapore on medical leave.

It is not known when a decision will be made about his permanent successor, with PNG’s parliament in recess until August, and national elections not expected until the middle of next year.

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3 thoughts on “Ailing Somare resigns as PNG leader

  1. A great write up here from Martin Maden:

    “Sir Michael is Arthur Somare’s father. But as a national leader himself, Mr. Somare, son of our chief, needs to recognise the definition between Sir Michael, father of Arthur and Sir Michael, father of Papua New Guinea. Accordingly it would be inappropriate that he would regard the Grand Chief simply as his own father while making public representations or when making public statements regarding the office that his father holds…

    …Today, as Arthur Somare, perhaps motivated by his own aspirations and political positioning, fails to separate family from public office or to care about or recognise his father’s place in the hearts of millions of Papua New Guineans, many people would urge the question: “Could we have our Chief back now please”.

    In that kind of idealism in the public sentiment, leaders of Papua New Guinea need to remember the wish of the ordinary people to live in the country of their dreams and by such force to be better guardians and stewards of the people’s common heritage…”

    Read the full post here: http://tok-piksa.blogspot.com/2011/06/where-private-goes-public.html

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