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Michael Somare 'will not stand in PNG election'

Papua New Guinea's Sir Michael Somare and Peter O'Neill (AP/AFP) Image copyright Other
Image caption Both Sir Michael Somare (L) and Peter O'Neill claim the top job in Papua New Guinea

Sir Michael Somare, one of two men claiming the role of prime minister in Papua New Guinea, will not stand in the next election, said his daughter and spokesperson.

However, he would campaign on behalf of his National Alliance (NA) party, Bertha Somare told reporters.

PNG's parliament voted in April to delay the poll due in June amid the ongoing political crisis.

Elections must be held every five years in PNG.

"He's been in politics for 43 years, he's been elected every time, I don't think he has anything else to prove," Ms Somare told AFP news.

She added that her family supported the move, which came just days after a fund-raising event for Sir Michael's party.

''As a family, we're also encouraging him not to stand," she said. "I think that there are things that he can do outside of politics."

Ms Somare was quoted as saying earlier that Sir Michael would contest the election and step down mid-term. She later clarified that she had misheard a question during the event.

Judges suspended

The tussle between Sir Michael Somare, a veteran in PNG politics, and Peter O'Neill for the role of prime minister has dominated PNG's political landscape in recent months.

Sir Michael - then prime minister - left the country in March 2011 to receive medical treatment. In August, MPs declared the position of prime minister vacant and elected Mr O'Neill leader.

But a Supreme Court ruling in December 2011 stated that parliament had acted illegally and ordered that Sir Michael be restored to office. Mr O'Neill, backed by the civil service, refused to step down.

In January a retired colonel staged a failed mutiny with a group of soldiers, taking the chief of defence forces captive and demanding that Sir Michael be reinstated.

Since then the stand-off has continued to rumble on.

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