The Malta Independent 20 February 2019, Wednesday

George Vella does not deny being approached to be next President of Malta

Rebekah Cilia Wednesday, 6 February 2019, 10:31 Last update: about 13 days ago

Former Labour Foreign Minister George Vella did not deny having been approached by Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat in relation to Vella becoming the next President of Malta.

When contacted by this newspaper, Vella said, “Regarding these matters we need to wait for the Prime Minister’s announcement in Parliament and for him to make a decision. What is being said and being done are not public matters.” He declined to comment further.

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Last month, The Malta Independent on Sunday had revealed that Vella was a favourite to become the next President of Malta.

Senior government sources had said that Vella is being mentioned as the preferred candidate to replace President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca when her term expires in April.

Vella is one of a number of politicians to whom Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has referred as his mentors. Sources had told this newsroom that by appointing Vella as President, Muscat would be showing his gratitude for all the work the former minister carried out during his political career. Vella had supported Muscat during the PL leadership race and when the PL won the general election in 2013, Muscat appointed him Minister for Foreign Affairs.

What could work against Vella is the fact that, during his four years as a senior minister, he disagreed with Muscat on a number of issues, especially those related to civil liberties. In fact, in 2016, when Muscat proposed that Malta should introduced gay marriage, The Malta Independent on Sunday had asked Vella if he agreed and, not mincing his words, Vella had replied: “I am for civil unions but I do not agree with gay marriage. Marriage is between a man and a woman. I agree with civil unions because they [LGBTI persons] deserve the same rights as everybody else. The fact that their rights are recognised by law, in an institutionalised way, is important.” 

Vella also expressed his disagreement when the Embryo Protection Act was being discussed in Parliament last May. In an interview with this newsroom, he said that on the subject of the amendments to the 2012 law on embryo protection, he would have “definitely” voted against the bill, had he still been a Member of Parliament.

Certain liberal laws that the Prime Minister wants to push through might create problems for Vella as President, because of his rather conservative outlook. The clash might also create a constitutional crisis.

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