Sunday, May 06, 2012

Somare throws hat in ring

From AAP

PAPUA New Guinea's ex-prime minister Sir Michael Somare has said he will stand for re-election in June.
But the veteran leader has hinted he will step down in the coming parliamentary term.
Sir Michael, 76, made the announcement at a National Alliance fundraiser in Port Moresby last night.

Former PNG PM Sir Michael Somare has announced he will stand for re-election next month. Picture: AFP

"Many of you are thinking, what's this old man, this damn old man, going to do do next," Sir Michael said.
"I will campaign strongly for the National Alliance to form a new government for PNG. After 44 years, as I leave the political stage, I am proud to see our constitution is intact and our country will prevail."
Sir Michael's daughter and press spokeswoman, Betha, said the veteran leader would run for re-election but will step down during the new term.
Sir Michael cited his government's record of economic growth, saying it was a reason the 79 National Alliance candidates should be elected when PNG heads to the polls in late June.
He also said the government of Peter O'Neill had acted unacceptably by legislating in December last year to dump him from his seat of East Sepik.
Sir Michael has held the seat for 44 years. He was PNG's first prime minister, serving from independence in 1975 until 1980.
In 2002 he retook the top job and was PNG's longest-serving PM until he was suspended for two weeks in early March 2011 after being found guilty of personal financial misconduct.
He then flew to Singapore for heart surgery and was not heard from for five months.
In his absence, his political enemies sharpened their knives and on August 2 parliament voted to dump him as PM.
The Supreme Court on December 12 last year later ruled that move unconstitutional, a decision that sparked a rolling crisis culminating in a failed coup by Somare supporters in early January.
Sir Michael previously announced his retirement in March 2008, but went on to serve another three years.
The veteran leader, known as "the father of independence" holds the honorary title of "Grand Chief", but is also affectionately known as the "the old man" by the people of PNG.
However the national mood seemed to shift behind Sir Michael's controversial successor, Mr O'Neill, who has promised free health care and education for PNG.
Sir Michael's speech was made in the Dynasty Restaurant in Port Moresby's Vision City Mall, the same venue where Mr O'Neill launched his People's National Congress party election campaign two weeks ago. There are 43 registered political parties contesting PNG's 2012 election.

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