12 Jan 2006

Former PNG PM described as man of the people

4:29 pm on 12 January 2006

The former Papua New Guinea prime minister, Sir William Skate was said to be a man of the people at his funeral today.

More than 5,000 people gathered in Port Morseby, after the government declared the day a public holiday.

The funeral for the former prime minister took place in the PNG capital, and is the first buried on a newly-reserved graveyard on Independence Hill, near parliament house.

Our correspondent in Port Moresby, Peter Niesi says among other things, Sir William will be remembered for helping to end years of civil war on Bougainville.

"Sir William Skate is seen as one of the key prime minister in the resolution in the Bougainville crisis, and they've come here in force to ensure that their last respects to the man who helped them resolve the bloody conflict that had resulted in bloody deaths in the thousands."

Sir William Skate was prime minister of PNG between 1997 and 1999.