The founding premier of Papua New Guinea, Sir Michael Somare, has died at the age of 84.
Sir Michael died early in the morning after being diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer and hospitalized a week ago .
The Grand Chief, as Sir Michael was known, served as Prime Minister in four separate stints over a period of seventeen years.
As Chief Minister of the former Australian Territory, Sir Michael helped lead PNG to independence in 1975 , and became his first Prime Minister later that year.
« Sir Michael was a loyal husband to our mother and grandfather first of their children, then grandchildren and great-granddaughter.
» But we are thrilled to have many Papuan New Guineans Sir Michael embraced as a father and grandfather alike. «
Sir Michael is survived by his 56-year-old wife Lady Veronica and their five children and their respective families.
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