29 Jun 2011

Uncertainty over Sir Michael Somare's health deciding factor in his retirement

6:20 am on 29 June 2011

Uncertainty surrounding the recovery from recent heart surgery has prompted the family of Sir Michael Somare to announce the Papua New Guinea Prime Minister's retirement after nearly 50 years in politics.

Sir Michael has been on medical leave since mid-April during which time he underwent an operation to replace his leaking heart valve in Singapore.

Our correspondent in PNG, Jonathan Tannos, reports that a statement signed by one of Sir Michael's sons, Arthur Somare, says the retirement has not been an easy decision to take without full consultation with the man dubbed the Grand Chief.

"The Prime Minister was not in a position where he could coherently make such a decision for himself. He was saying that he had not recovered as remarkably well as anticipated and due to other complications that had consequently developed from the heart operation, therefore it would be a prolonged recuperation period."

Jonathan Tannos.