Michael Somare, Papua New Guinea’s ‘Father of the Nation,’ Dies at 84

Michael Somare, Papua New Guinea’s first prime minister, who performed a significant function in main the nation to independence from Australia, died on Friday at a hospital in Port Moresby, the capital. He was 84.

His demise was introduced by his daughter Betha Somare, who mentioned he had been admitted to a hospital on Feb. 19 after a prognosis of late-stage pancreatic most cancers.

“Sadly, pancreatic most cancers is among the most aggressive cancers which are hardly ever detected early,” she mentioned in an emailed assertion. “We as a household had solely two weeks to search for doable remedies for our father.”

Extensively thought to be “papa blo kantri,” the daddy of the nation, Mr. Somare was the Pacific nation’s longest-serving prime minister, over three separate phrases — for 17 of its 45 years of independence so far. He was the nation’s chief from 1975 to 1980; from 1982 to 1985; and from 2002 to 2011.

Mr. Somare performed a pivotal function in navigating the various challenges raised by the nation’s disparate tribal teams, Australian expatriates and Australia’s authorities within the lead-up to independence, wrote Ronald Might, an emeritus fellow with the Division of Pacific Affairs at Australian Nationwide College.

“However these challenges, Papua New Guinea made a clean transition to independence in 1975, with Mr. Somare as prime minister, confounding these in Australia and elsewhere who had predicted political and financial collapse,” he wrote. “It stays one in every of a reasonably small variety of post-colonial states which have maintained an unbroken report of democracy.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia instructed native reporters on Friday that he had known as James Marape, Papua New Guinea’s prime minister, to supply his condolences to Mr. Somare’s household and the nation’s folks.

“He was the sunshine of his technology which has lighted up the trail for Papua New Guineans at this time and into the longer term,” Mr. Morrison mentioned.

Mr. Somare was born in April 9, 1936, in Rabaul, East New Britain Province, the place his father was stationed as a police officer. The youthful Mr. Somare was reared in East Sepik Province, which he would later symbolize in Parliament.

He labored as a translator and a journalist earlier than coming into politics as one of many founders of the Pangu Pati, which acted as an unofficial opposition in Parliament earlier than forming a coalition that led the nation to independence.

He served because the chief minister of Papua New Guinea as an Australian-administered territory and, after independence, as its first prime minister.

At a midnight radio address to the new nation, Mr. Somare mentioned: “That is just the start. Now we should stand on our personal two ft and work more durable than ever earlier than. We’re certainly masters of our personal future.”

Mr. Somare spent the final a part of his closing time period in important care exterior Papua New Guinea, throughout which era he was controversially eliminated by a bunch of lawmakers who declared that the function of prime minister was vacant. Mr. Somare formally retired from politics in 2017.

Along with his daughter Betha, Mr. Somare is survived by his spouse, Veronica, whom he married in 1965; and their different kids, Sana, Arthur, Michael and Dulciana.

On Friday, Mr. Marape known as for “every week of silence, peace and calm as we pay respect to this one particular person whom our nation owes a lot.”

In an announcement, he mentioned, “Our nation honors this nice chief, the founding and longest serving prime minister of our nation.” Mr. Marape added, “He’s unmatched by any one in every of us who comes after him.”

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