The National, Friday April 8th, 2016
By MALUM NALU
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says the nation “forever holds great respect” for Sir Michael Somare and his achievements – as the Grand Chief celebrates his 80th birthday this weekend.
“As one of the founding fathers of our nation, he worked to deliver independence and the first government of Papua New Guinea,” O’Neill said.
“Our nation forever holds great respect for the Grand Chief and his achievements throughout his life.”
“Through his 80 years, he has seen and been a part of enormous change in our country.
“May our Grand Chief have time to reflect upon on his achievements on this auspicious day.
“From my family and I, I extend our best wishes to Grand Chief, Sir Michael Somare, on the occasion of his 80th birthday.”
Sir Michael, who travelled home to East Sepik on Wednesday after the current session of Parliament to celebrate his birthday, said recently his 80th birthday party in Wewak tomorrow was being organised by his children.
“They are organising my birthday – which is not a time to talk about politics,” he said.
It is expected that many of his relatives and friends will be attending the party at his home.
He said his contribution to the nation was coming to an end.
“I have shown you politics. How you continue is up to you. I’m going to go back to the village,” he said.
“And when God calls me, I’ll go.”
Sir Michael is calling it a day after 48 years in politics.
He announced last month that he was not going to contest next year’s general election.
“Sepik people put great faith in me and they have put me up as their Member since 1968,” he said.
“I’ve completed nine parliaments – that’s a history in Papua New Guinea. No one else in the country can claim that. (Only) I can.”
Sir Michael said it was now time for the “new generation” to take over the baton.
“When people didn’t know anything, I came and showed them the way,” he said.
“I have completed my task, finished. Now it’s time for the new generation to carry on and see what you can do.”