In an interview with O’Neill with this newsroom today, he said Sir Michael was a very unique leader apart from all the leaders in the country, as well as the commonwealth.
“Firstly, I joined the rest of the citizens around the country and pay our last respects to the founding father of our nation, Sir Michael Thomas Somare.
“We owe him a huge level of gratitude for his service to our country, the life-long service to our country serving about 50 years as an educator, as a journalist, as a leader of our nation who founded our country to become an independent in a very peaceful manner.
“All the respects and gratitude that he deserves must be given to him by all the citizens and every leader in this country.”
O’Neill extended his condolences to the family of the late Grand Chief, in particular Lady Veronica, who has been there from the start of Sir Michael’s career till his passing, and continues to provide stability in his life in many years.
“Sir Michael is a unique leader who has an extraordinary life. His service to the country is unmatched to anybody in the country and we respect him for that.
“He has been able to unite a very diverse country with diverse cultures and diverse languages in diverse communities and tribes right across the country, but to able to forge that into a very united country is a commendable effort.
“He deserves to be the founding father of our country and very much loved by all the citizens in the country.”
The former Prime Minister further added that he knew Sir Michael for the past 25 years when he was a very young man before joining politics.
He said Sir Michael was the first person to witness his nominations during the 2002 national elections in Ialibu Pangia as a friend even though he’s not contesting under his National Alliance Party.
O’Neill stressed that although they have differences, especially dealing with challenges that is affecting our country, as well as policies and the implementation of the policies that did not diminish the level of friendship and cordial relationship he has with Sir Michael for many years.
“It’s a huge loss to everyone and much bigger loss to the country.
“So let us all get together and show him the respect he deserved during this time of sorrow and grieve.”
The late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare passed away on Friday February 26, 2021.
He was 84 years old and is survived by Lady Veronica, and five children.