Michael Somare critically ill in PNG

·1-min read

Former Papua New Guinea prime minister Michael Somare, regarded as the father of the nation, is in a critical condition with pancreatic cancer in a Port Moresby hospital, his family says.

The 82-year-old and his wife Veronica had been preparing to go overseas for treatment, PNG newspaper The National reported on Monday.

"It is with sadness that I advise, on behalf of the Somare family, the serious illness pancreatic cancer that has befallen our father, Sir Michael," a family member told the newspaper.

"It is at a critical stage and we as a family, along with his medical teams, are giving him the utmost care that he deserves."

The family member said that in consultation with Sir Michael and Lady Veronica the family had settled on the best palliative care option in PNG.

That followed comprehensive consultations to ensure all clinical opportunities were exhausted in other countries to treat the critical stage of the cancer.

"We thank the many Papua New Guineans who have sent in their well wishes and prayers for the health and wellbeing of Sir Michael and Lady Veronica."

Somare was pivotal in PNG's shift to independence and was the country's first prime minister from 1975 to 1980.

He was prime minister for a total of 16 years over three separate stints before retiring from politics in 2017.