Caretaker Prime Minister, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare, today announced the untimely death of the Minister for Culture and Tourism and MP for Lae-Mbaelelea, Hon. Samuel Bentley Ragosomani.

Hon. Ragosomani died at the National Referral Hospital at 11:45pm last night following a short illness.

In a statement today, Prime Minister Sogavare paid tribute to a man he described as a die-hard supporter of the Grand Coalition for Change Government and its policy.

"The Hon Ragosomani was steadfast in his belief in the unity of this nation and he had given his best during his short tenure as a Minister of the Crown and a Member of Parliament. His presence and contributions to the future of this nation would be missed by those of us who have had the privilege of working with him," he said.

"Once again, the nation has lost a great leader in the passing of this great man," Prime Minister Sogavare said.

"At this juncture, I wish to extend the deepest sympathy and condolences of the caretaker government to Mrs. Ragosomani and the children and the people of Lau/Mbaelelea Constituency on Malaita for the loss of a husband, father and MP."

Arrangements are being made for a state funeral for the late Minister. Details will be announced later today once all the arrangements are finalized.

Hon Ragosomani's death brings to three the number of MPs from Malaita who died since the 2006 national election.