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Samoan PM flying to NZ for health reasons

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 15:12 23/03/2014

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South Pacific

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Samoa's long-serving Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele is being flown to New Zealand tonight for treatment over an undefined illness that has kept him in intensive care in Apia for the last four days.

Government sources say he will be taken to New Zealand on a commercial flight.

Earlier this week New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said he had offered to send a plane to Samoa to pick up Tuilaepa, 68.

Samoa said no to the offer.

"I think the situation, without wanting to give medical reports, is manageable," Key said.

The flight from Samoa will arrive early tomorrow.

The Samoan public has not been told what is wrong with Tuilaepa who has been prime minister for 16 years.

Tuilaepa left Parliament wrapped in a blanket Wednesday evening.

Yesterday hospital staff told the Samoa Observer that Tuilaepa was "doing well" but were unable to say how soon he might be well enough to leave ICU.

On Friday the Chief Executive Officer of the Prime Minister's Office, Vaosa Epa, said that Tuilaepa's condition was "never" life threatening.

An economist with a master's degree from the University of Auckland, Tuilaepa, a father of eight children, has been in Parliament for 34 years.

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