Two weeks of mourning

26th of February 2021 will go down in the history and calendar of Papua New Guinea as the day, the founding father of the nation, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare passed away.

Today started off very slow throughout the country as Papua New Guineans came to terms with the passing of a great man who led a divided Papua New Guinea into a united and independent one.

Prime Minister James Marape announced this afternoon that the country will grieve for the next two weeks.

The Prime Minister said the cabinet has approved for Monday 1st of March and Friday 12th of March to be a nationwide public holiday to honour and pay respect to the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.

Marape said discussions are underway with the Somare family and the East Sepik Provincial Government to finalise arrangements for a state funeral.

“The next two weeks is designated as a special two weeks of mourning. We have also designated that Monday 1st of March be a public holiday for the nation to start remembering the father of our country," he stated.

"We have also designated the 12th of March as another day of holiday, hopefully if the National Organising Committee, led by myself and the Prime Minister’s Department and the National Events Council, liaise with the East Sepik Provincial Government, East Sepik Provincial Assembly as well as the family, we designated 12th of March as another public holiday and we hope that on that date, we will put the Grand Chief to a rest that he truly deserve."

Prime Minister Marape also announced that the cabinet has approved the 11th of March as a day where communities can gather at their nearest schools to commemorate the legacy and impact the Grand Chief had on the country leading to independence.

“We will have a national event telecast and a series of documentaries to show the contribution of Somare before 1975 and after 1975.”

The cabinet has declared that this date, 26th of February, will be a National Day of Remembrance.

Jemimah Sukbat