Despite hinting that Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici should resign, Nationalist MP Franco Debono is reserving comment on his voting intentions over a looming motion of censure.
The motion was presented by the Labour Party months ago, over Dr Mifsud Bonnici’s performance as Justice and Home Affairs Minister. Following a January reshuffle, the minister is now responsible for home affairs and local councils, and he was also made Leader of the House.
A no-confidence motion in government was submitted by Labour after Dr Debono harshly criticised the reshuffle, but the MP ultimately abstained from the vote in late January.
No division vote has been held since then, despite a number of pending matters – including the motion of censure. A vote will, however, be held on the Budget Measures Implementation Bill – which, as a money bill, is an automatic confidence vote – on 9 May.
The government’s intention was to hold that vote ahead of the vote on the motion of censure, Dr Debono said. But as soon as he confirmed this, he informed the prime minister that this would be unacceptable.
When contacted by this newspaper, the MP remarked that he could not imagine anyone finding such a situation acceptable.
He noted that as Leader of the House, Dr Mifsud Bonnici has been blocking a motion of censure against him while expecting other matters to be discussed.
Dr Debono said that parliament never fell to such depths.
“No one is greater than parliament and the Constitution. Political parties are means to an end not an end in themselves,” he said, after noting that he has long spoken about the dignity of Parliament.
But the MP could not be drawn to comment on whether he planned to vote to censure Dr Mifsud Bonnici, despite remarking that “ministers who make mistakes should resign” and despite outlining a number of shortcomings in the field of justice and home affairs.
Dr Debono said that this newspaper should focus on such matters instead of focusing on what he was doing, suggesting that the newsroom should look into the situation at the Law Courts and in the police force, among others.
After mentioning the police, he stressed that he had full trust in the police commissioner and in high-ranking police officers.
“But the political direction is wrong,” he added.
Pressed further, however, he once again declined to comment what his vote would be.
“If (Dr Mifsud Bonnici) is still minister when the vote is taken, follow the vote and you will know,” was as close to a reply as he was ready to make.