24 Jun 2011

PNG's Somare intends to stand down this year

3:04 pm on 24 June 2011

The president of the ruling Papua New Guinea National Alliance Party says it's in the interests of the party that a new leader emerges this year to take the party into the 2012 elections.

Papua New Guinea prime minister Sir Michael Somare, who's been in the top job since 2002, is in Singapore recovering from heart surgery.

The party president Simon Kaiwi has confirmed that the 75-year-old intends to step down later this year.

"According to the constitution it is an issue that can only be discussed at the party caucus meeting and that caucus meeting is scheduled to be held in August this year but the Prime Minister in his own mind, he made his intention known, that he'd like to leave the leadership available for a younger or for somebody else to take over some time this year."

In Sir Michael Somare's absence, the acting prime minister Sam Abal has sacked Don Polye, who has had leadership asperations, prompting the Highlands executive to ask for Mr Abal to be dismissed from the party.