By JUNIOR UKAHA
Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah has called on the so mare family and parliamentarians from the former government not to "pressure" the Grand Chief into making "rushed decisions", The National reports.
Namah said in reaction to The National's front page story yesterday on a signed statement from Sir Michael Somare sent by his daughter Betha, saying he was still the legally elected prime minister.
In a media conference in Port Moresby yesterday, Namah said the Grand Chief should not be forced to return from Singapore where he is recovering from an open heart surgery and two corrective operations.
"The Grand Chief must be allowed to fully recover at his own time without being hassled by family members and close associates to make decisions," Namah said.
He claimed that last week Sir Michael had been hassled over the national radio to declare that he wanted to celebrate the 36th Independence anniversary in the country.
Namah said while the nation continued to pray for the Grand Chief's speedy recovery, "that process should not be circumvented by individuals and groups who have sinister motives and vested interests".
Namah, whose government took power on Aug 2, said Sir Michael's health was far more important than him returning home to celebrate independence on Sept 16.
"Arthur and Betha, including the remnants of the previous government, must respect Sir Michael and must not use the media for trial," he said.
He said in the case Sir Michael decided to come back to the country earlier than advised by his doctors, "the government will appoint three independent medical practitioners to confirm as to whether he is fit to travel as a former prime minister and the Grand Chief of the country".
Namah, who is speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Peter O'Neill who is in Fiji, said even if Sir Michael was ushered to Papua New Guinea, "there is no guarantee that he will have the numbers to govern the country".
Namah said the people of PNG had spoken through parliament and his government "is legitimate".
"We will not be distracted by remnants of the former regime who cannot accept the fact that there is a new government," he said.