Papua New Guinea's veteran Prime Minister Michael Somare has stepped down so he can face a tribunal over allegations of official misconduct against him, his office told AFP on Tuesday.
Somare, 74, a dominant figure in Pacific politics since the 1970s, decided to "voluntarily step aside" so a leadership tribunal can hear allegations he failed to lodge annual financial statements in the 1990s.
"The PM respects the due processes and will continue to avail himself to hearings," his office said in a statement issued late Monday.
Recently appointed Deputy Prime Minister Sam Abal will assume the role of prime minister for the duration of the tribunal. Somare's aides have dismissed the investigation as politically motivated.
Somare stepped aside after his lawyers failed to stop the public prosecutor from advising the country's chief justice to set up a leadership tribunal to hear the claims.
Somare said he was the victim of a ...