In a letter addressed to the PNG Prime Minister the Honourable James Marape, President Aingimea says, “It is with profound sadness that I have learned of the passing of Papua New Guinea‟s „Father of the Nation‟ and first Prime Minister, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare GCL,GCMG,CH CF, SSI, KSG, PC.
“Sir Michael was truly a man of the region, one of whom to be admired and respected. His passing is a great loss not only for his immediate family and friends but also a great loss to his people and the Pacific region.”
Sir Michael passed away at 12am on Friday 25 February 2021 at the age of 84.
His family issued a statement announcing his passing.
“Sir Michael was only diagnosed with a late stage of pancreatic cancer in early February and was admitted to hospital on Friday 19 February 2021. Sadly, pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers that are rarely detected early. We as a family had only two weeks to look for possible treatments for our father,” the statement said. Known as the father of the nation, he led PNG to independence from Australia in 1975 and was one of the country's longest-serving politicians, with a career that spanned 49 years. He served as prime minister for four terms (17 years) until 2011. Michael Thomas Somare was born on 9 April, 1936 in Rabaul, a coastal town in what was then the Australian mandated territory of New Guinea, and raised in the East Sepik Province, a region he went on to represent in parliament.
In 1972, Sir Michael was elected as Chief Minister of the territory and three years later PNG gained its independence, and at the age of just 39 Michael Somare became PNG‟s first prime minister.
He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990. He is survived by his wife Lady Veronica Somare and their five children.