Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare has this evening, through his family, announced his resignation from the seat of Prime Minister of PNG and subsequent retirement from politics. His poor recovery from recent heart surgery was cited as a deciding factor.

The picture above (familiar to readers here – sorry for the recycling) was made a year ago when he confidently stepped off the fancy jet in Buka to participate in the inauguration of President John Momis. I was stunned by how strong his speech later in the day was – for years I had been underwhelmed by the speeches I had seen on tv… and yet he just had everyone hanging on to his amusing stories and asides. When you see old footage of him in the early seventies, full of heat and not short of a rallying speech… hard not to be impressed, and I caught a glimpse.

And yet any number of controversies and questionable undertakings will always hang alongside his title as the PM of independence.

So now he steps away, finished, and the immediate future in domestic PNG politics is going to be a pisser: fascinating.

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