PNG’s founding father Sir Michael Somare ‘critically ill’, says family

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Sir Michael Smare ill
How The National reported Sir Michael Somare's health situation today. Image: The National screenshot

Asia Pacific Report

Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, widely regarded as the founding father of independent Papua New Guinea, was in a critical condition in Port Moresby last night fighting cancer, reports The National today.

The 84-year-old former politician and his wife, Lady Veronica, had been preparing this week to go overseas for treatment, the newspaper said.

A family member said last night: “It is with sadness that I advise, on behalf of the Somare family, the serious illness pancreatic cancer that has befallen our father, Sir Michael, is at a critical stage and we as a family, along with his medical teams, are giving him the utmost care that he deserves.”

The National said that Cardinal Sir John Ribat celebrated a special Eucharist with Sir Michael and Lady Veronica yesterday at his hospital bed at the Pacific International Hospital in Port Moresby.

The ABC correspondent in Port Moresby, Natalie Whiting, posted a twitter message saying Cardinal Ribat had “released a statement on behalf of the family asking the public to pray for Sir Michael and advising he is receiving palliative care in Port Moresby”.

The family statement continued:

Sir Michael Somare in his political heyday. Image: Radio NZ

“After comprehensive consultation to ensure all clinical opportunities were exhausted in every jurisdiction with the competencies able to treat the critical stage of this form of cancer, the family, in consultation with the grand chief and Lady Veronica, have settled with offering the best palliative care and nutritional and dietary care in PNG.

“Due to the numerous enquiries, we thought it best to be forthright so the public knows the exact extent of this terrible illness.

“We thank the many Papua New Guineans who have sent in their well wishes and prayers for the health and wellbeing of Sir Michael and Lady Veronica.”

Sir Michael, a former broadcaster, was a key politician in the lead up to independence from Australia in 1975 and he became the country’s first prime minister.

His political career spanned from 1968 until his retirement in 2017 and he has been papua New Guinea’s longest-serving prime minister.

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