Michael Somare Remembrance Day in Papua New Guinea Date in the current year: February 26, 2024

Michael Somare Remembrance Day in Papua New Guinea Michael Somare Remembrance Day is a public holiday in Papua New Guinea observed on February 26. It honors the memory of the first Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, who is widely referred to as the Father of the Nation and the Grand Chief.

Michael Somare was born on April 9, 1936 in Rabaul (East New Britain Province) and grew up in East Sepik Province. Upon completing his education in 1957, he worked as a teacher at several primary and secondary schools. In addition to teaching Somare, being one of the few Papua New Guineans who spoke good English, worked as an interpreter for the Legislative Council and later for the House of Assembly.

In 1967, Somare co-founded the Pangu Party together with a group of educated nationalists that included Albert Maori Kiki, Cecil Abel, Barry Holloway, and Lucas Waka. The party quickly became popular among the people of Papua New Guinea because it advocated independence from Australia.

In 1968, Somare was elected to the House of Assembly, where he continued to campaign for independence. Upon his re-election in 1972, he headed the coalition government and became a member of a Select Committee on Constitutional Development.

The independence of Papua New Guinea from Australia was proclaimed in 1975. Somare became the country’s first Prime Minister after independence. He served for five years before being deposed by Julius Chan, his deputy, in a vote of no confidence. Somare regained the post in 1982 and served as Prime Minister for three more years.

During the subsequent years, Somare served as minister of foreign affairs, minister of mining, minister of Bougainville affairs, the leader of the opposition, and the governor of his native province of East Sepik.

In 1994, Somare left the Pangu Party due to disagreements and founded the National Alliance Party. Somare’s party won the most seats in the 2002 general election, and Somare became Prime Minister for the third time. He held the post until 2011, when he was once again deposed while being hospitalized in Singapore. Somare’s removal was controversial, but his successor Peter O’Neill held on to power due to winning the 2012 election.

Somare served as Prime Minister of New Guinea for a total of 17 years (from 1975 to 1980, from 1982 to 1985, and from 2002 to 2011), which makes him the country’s longest-serving head of government. After his deposition, Somare remained in politics until 2017, when he chose to retire due to failing health.

Michael Somare died from pancreatic cancer on February 26, 2021. The next year, the government of Papua New Guinea declared his death anniversary a national remembrance day. Although Somare was quite a controversial figure, he is greatly respected for leading the country to its independence and for being an advocate for the rich culture of Papua New Guinea.

Michael Somare Remembrance Day should not be confused with Papua New Guinea’s National Remembrance Day. The latter is observed on July 23 to commemorate all PNG soldiers and officers who died in the line of duty.

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