PNG sends doctors to assess Somare

Sir Michael Somare Credit: ABC
Papua New Guinea's government will send a medical team to Singapore to assess the health of Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and his ability to continue as the country's leader.

Sir Michael has been in intensive care in hospital since undergoing heart surgery in April.

Earlier this week Sir Michael's son, Arthur Somare, said his father remained in intensive care and was "not in a good enough condition" to discuss retirement, so the family decided to announce his retirement on his behalf.

In a statement, Mr Somare said complications from his father's heart surgery "further delayed the anticipated time in which Sir Michael was expected to recover and return to Papua New Guinea".

"Therefore, on behalf of (his wife) Lady Veronica, I wish to announce that it is our family's collective desire that Sir Michael be allowed to recover at his own pace and therefore retire," he said.

"In our considered decision to do this; we believe PNG should have a level of certainty with regard to political stability and leadership well into the future.

"This has not been an easy decision to take without full and proper consultation with Sir Michael.

"However in the greater public interest and collective good of the country we are of the view that this decision is necessary, and we believe it will also be his desire to do so at this time given the circumstances."

But the announcment has stirred debate and argument in PNG, with many feeling the decision is not one the family can make on Sir Michael's behalf.

On Thursday, the government said it will send a medical team to Singapore to find out if Sir Michael is unable to make the decision himself.

Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal says the matter is a sensitive one.

"As the prime minister [has been] a leader of this country for so long it becomes very sensitive, not only for us as leaders but more so for the people of PNG," he said.

"Of course, [people are] very concerned about his health and the issue of whether he'll be coming back as prime minister."

For more details on the story visit Pacific Beat

-Radio Australia

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