Chief takes first few steps

National, Normal

The National – Tuesday, July 5, 2011

PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare has been walking with aid in hospital and talking since last Thursday, although his recovery is expected to be slow.
According to Brian Gomez, media adviser to State Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare, Sir Michael has been walking with assistance after weeks of being confined to bed in a hospital in Singapore after undergoing surgery.
Gomez said Sir Michael had been walking and talking since last Thursday.
He underwent heart surgery in April and then underwent two more re-construction surgeries.
Theresa Kumo, media adviser in the Prime Minister’s Department, said, when asked for more information on Sir Michael, any official statement on the condition of the Grand Chief would come from the family of Sir Michael. Kumo said although Sir Michael was recovering, it was too early to comment on anything because any statement would have to come from the family.
Last Tuesday, Sir Michael’s son Arthur revealed to the nation of his family’s intention to retire their father from active politics.
However, under the law, Sir Michael will have to officially declare his intention to step down from office and formally inform the head of state of his decision.
In the case of ill-health, the government may nominate two doctors to examine him and give their professional opinion on whether he is capable of continuing in office as prime minister.
It would be left to parliament to decide, if he was declared unfit to continue or decides to step down, on who should succeed him.
There were already reports of factions lobbying to get the top post and the leadership of the National Alliance party.
Meanwhile, it is understood that Fiji’s prime minister  Frank Bainimarama, who is in Singapore to watch the netball world championship, is likely to visit Sir Michael in hospital. This, however, could not be confirmed with Fiji’s permanent secretary for information Sharon Smith-Jones yesterday.