Somare willing to serve again

Main Stories, National

The National, Monday 12th December 2011

GRAND Chief SIR Michael Somare is willing to serve as prime minister of Papua New Guinea again, but he says he is unsure if he will run for his East Sepik electorate in the 2012 general election.
Sir Michael’s comments yesterday came as the government of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill obtained the signature of Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio on a document dismissing the political veteran from the seat he has held for 43 years.
“I am willing. I am willing to serve as
prime minister again,” the 76-year-old told a media conference yesterday.
“Although I do not know if I will run for East Sepik again, there is a lot to consider.”
Sir Michael said he would not comment on the Supreme Court decision, due today, that could return him to office if the five-judge bench rules that O’Neill was not constitutionally elected.
The government had obtained the signature of the governor-general rescinding leave granted to Sir Michael to miss parliament in May while he was in Singapore undergoing heart surgery.
The document stated that, as a consequence, Sir Michael was no longer a sitting MP.
“I cannot believe they have done this to me, after 43 years – 44 next year,” Sir Michael said.
At the media conference, Sir Michael said little other than
to urge the nation to
remain calm in the lead-up to today’s court decision.
The three heart operations that kept him absent from PNG for five months had left the usually stocky but fit-looking man thinner and frail.
However, he was extremely alert at the press conference, laughing at jokes directed at the O’Neill side and checking messages on his mobile phone.
His son, suspended Angoram MP Arthur Somare, said he would file a legal challenge against Speaker Jeffery Nape for ruling his father was dismissed from parliament.
Sir Michael was PNG’s first prime minister when it gained independence from Australia in 1975.
He went on to serve as foreign minister and opposition leader, before becoming prime minister again in the 2002 election and again in 2007, making him PNG’s longest-serving leader. – AAP