Friday, July 08, 2011

Family okays plan to assess PM’s health



THE government has consulted the family of Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare to allow two selected doctors to report on his health condition, The National reports.

Attorney-General and Justice Minister Sir Arnold Amet told a media conference that Sir Michael's doctor, Isi Kevau, had met with the National Executive Council to discuss the process allowing two appointed medical doctors to assess Sir Michael's condition.

"As respect for the Grand Chief, the family has to be consulted first before the assessment process, as required under the constitution, is followed," he said.

Sir Arnold, accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Ano Pala and Public Service Minister Moses Maladina and other members, said discussions with the Somare family had been positive.

He said it meant that the head of state could go ahead and ask the PNG Medical Board to appoint two practising doctors to go to Singapore to, in consultation with doctors at the hospital, assess the prime minister's condition.

He said the doctors had 28 days to complete the report and forward it to the head of state.

He said if the report indicated that Sir Michael could not resume duties within three months, then the head of state would inform the speaker to convene parliament and elect a new prime minister.

He said if the report concluded otherwise, the head of state would not need to inform parliament.

Sir Michael's son, Arthur, had revealed two weeks ago that the family wanted to retire the Grand Chief to allow him time to recover at his own pace.

However, Sir Michael is required by law to formally and personally make known his intention to step down from office.

Sir Michael is reportedly out of his hospital bed and walking a few steps each day with assistance, and speaking to those around him.

On Monday this week, he was visited at the hospital by Fiji's interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who is the current head of the Melanesian Spearhead Group of which PNG is a member.

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