‘I must become a king myself,’ says Belden Namah
Turning PNG’s rich history into a bit of scrap metal

Somare to take insult & injury back to parliament


Sir Michael with grand-daughters Tiana, Pwasima and HitongMICHAEL SOMARE, Papua New Guinea's version of ''Lazarus with a triple bypass'', is looking forward to returning to Parliament and dishing it back to the political rivals who kicked him out last year.

Gesturing to his chest, opened twice by doctors in Singapore last year for life-saving surgery, the four-time prime minister said yesterday he had rejected his family's advice to retire.

Instead Sir Michael is running to redress the insult of his abrupt removal after 43 years in Parliament, from pre-independence times, and will probably regain the seat representing his home province of East Sepik in elections due to finish on Friday.

''Everywhere people have said, 'Ours is a sorry vote. We want to show, the people of PNG, a Sepik who represented us and represented the whole country should be not treated in that way','' Sir Michael said.

Last August Parliament voted that Sir Michael was considered to have vacated the prime ministership after months away for medical treatment. He was then voted out of Parliament.

Two rulings by the Supreme Court reinstated him, but were rejected by the replacement government led by Peter O'Neill. The deputy prime minister, Belden Namah, stormed into the court in May to arrest the chief justice for alleged sedition.

Sir Michael's return to Parliament, possibly as leader of a National Alliance group that will be large enough to play a role in forming government, suggests that these elections may not end months of constitutional turmoil, as many citizens and business investors hope.

Sitting in the waterfront Windjammer Hotel in Wewak, Sir Michael cut a trim figure, persisting with the trademark Melanesian kilt eschewed by his younger counterparts. He tucked into a lunch of hamburger and chips while heatedly condemning his usurpers.

Last week he and family members took a motorboat for a two-hour trip to cast their votes in the small village at the mouth of the mighty Sepik River where he spent his early years, part of them under Japanese wartime occupation.

Sir Michael said he had been preparing to retire at these elections, but the way he was expelled was no way to treat a longstanding MP and prime minister.

''Just at a tick of the Speaker's pen, he says I'm out, and I'm out of Parliament,'' Sir Michael said. But he has no ambition to be prime minister again. ''My idea is to get National Alliance and its coalition partners back into government, then say goodbye to them, stay as a backbencher and stay in my province.''

Overtures had been made by camps in the present government, including Mr O'Neill's party, with a view to working together after the election, but Sir Michael says he will not accept them.

''They did a dishonourable thing by me,'' he said. ''They should have waited. They removed me while I was in a hospital bed. That hurt me more than anything else. I can see them as members of Parliament, but none of them will be working with me.

''They stabbed me in the back after keeping them for 9½ years, making them ministers, very important portfolios.''

He said the vote to remove him fell far short of the majority required under the constitution and laws, as the Supreme Court had twice ruled.

''All along I have been following the constitution of the country, which I helped to write,'' Sir Michael said. ''And you put these rogue people back in there, they'll do exactly the same thing. And if it doesn't suit them they'll change the laws. Then we end up with a dictatorship. I want to avoid as much as possible the type of things that happen in Africa.''

Sir Michael said he would pursue the jailing of those politicians who had shown contempt for the Supreme Court, to teach them a lesson about following the law. ''I don't forget these things. I am an old man of 76. I have not forgotten; my young thing is ticking in me.''


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John Wali

I agree Barbara, Somare is a four term prime minister.

This ought to count for something - where is the physical development that you can actually put your hands on and say - em han mak blong Somare?

Except for the K50 note, there is none.

Somare has taken this country closer to oblivion. Corruption has flourished folks, under his watch.

If the East Sepik voters return him, I would not mind if they free fall to oblivion. Long as they don't take rest of PNG down with them. I have been to Wewak so many times that honestly I cannot put my hands on anything at all.

At least you had Morauta setting up system and polocies in place that is beneficial to PNG. You had Paias Wingti getting the agriculture sector going.

Chan bringing in the Sandline mob and getting thrown out for his trouble. These guys did something for the country. Somare getting this country into independence does not count for anything in my view.

Physical improvement to people's lives count for something.

I have been accused of calling a spade, a spade and getting into trouble for it - but here it is: Somare is from the cargo cult era and his metality is still stuck with that process. Not good for PNG.

Mrs Barbara Short

Well,Somare is still at the Windjammer! It's a lovely spot and I remember sitting here with him in the 1970s, listening to the nightly news broadcast. He was a great guy.

But things were different then.

Now Somare had to go to a Singapore hospital to be given a new lease on life. I had to go to North Sydney hospital for chemo. I also know what it feels like to be at death's door.

But I have Sepik friends in Wewak who have been and are sick and have not been given treatment. Pity about them. Pity about Wewak hospital. It used to be great!

Somare's comments echo of "hurt pride". He saw himself become the "Bigman", the "Chief" of PNG, yet while he was at "death's door" he heard how some of the younger members of parliament, his protege, who he had made into ministers and given important portfolios to, were showing him disrespect.

I feel someone needs to get through to Somare that on his watch the country has gone backwards. Wewak hospital is in a bad way. Port Moresby hospitals are in a bad way.

What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?

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