Papua New Guinea's Sir Michael Somare
Papua New Guinea's influential Catholic Church is the latest group to call on Sir Michael Somare to resign, ABC Radio Australia reports.
The veteran politician continues to insist that he is the legal leader of the country, with the backing of a ruling from the Supreme Court. But prime minister Peter O'Neill says he is backed by a majority of MPs in parliament, the military, the police, the Governor-General and the public service.
"Our minds at this time would be to call on the prime minister, Sir Michael, to retire, to consider his health, he just came from a very big operation and right after the operation he did not have the time to recuperate, he just went straight into the situation we are in now," said Archbishop John Ribat, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG.
"For him to be able to accept it and resign while all these tensions and turmoil developing and so on, I believe it will be a good thing for him because he will go out gracefully and in a way people will hold him with that respect and remember him as the father of the nation."
Archbishop Ribat said the Church was not taking sides politically, but a "neutral" position that was "good for the whole country".
PNG Catholic Bishops want Somare to step down (Radio Australia)