Papua New Guinea (PNG)'s first Prime Minister Michael Somare has died at the age of 84, local newspaper Post Courier reported on Friday.
The founding father of PNG, who led the country to independence in September 1975, died on Friday morning in the national capital of Port Moresby after being diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer this February, reports Xinhua.
"Sadly, pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers that are rarely detected early. We as a family had only two weeks to look for possible treatments for our father," said a family statement.
"Sir Michael was a loyal husband to our mother and great father first to her children, then grandchildren and great-granddaughter. But we are endeared that many Papua New Guineans equally embraced Sir Michael as father and grandfather."
Born on April 9, 1936, Somare has been the longest-serving prime minister of 17 years in the country, and his political career spanned half a century from 1968 to 2017.
The PNG government has ordered all flags lowered to fly at half-mast to mourn the loss of Somare. The family said they would take Somare home to his final resting place in East Sepik Province.