The Malta Independent 21 January 2021, Thursday

Editorial - Prime Minister: call an election immediately

Thursday, 27 April 2017, 10:27 Last update: about 5 years ago

The Prime Minister really must, at the very least, call a general election immediately if he is to continue serving the country as a leader as opposed to simply being the person in power.

It is one thing for the Prime Minister to dismiss the media, to dismiss the accusations being levelled against him and key members of his government in the absence of documented proof.

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But it is quite another thing to ignore the Opposition Leader’s claims that he has clear and detailed evidence proving criminality and corruption among the top-ranked people in his own office.

The Prime Minister is facing some serious accusations on a personal level, as well as calls for him to resign and for his chief of staff to be arrested and charged with money laundering and corruption. 

This is not to be taken lightly, and no matter how much the Prime Minister likes to laugh off such accusations, this is certainly no laughing matter.  This is a matter of the utmost gravitas.

In a recent televised debate, last Friday in fact, the Prime Minister repeatedly challenged the Opposition Leader to take responsibility for the allegations that were being made by a journalist.  He did not do so.

Now he has.  Yesterday and on Tuesday night the Opposition Leader took full ownership of allegations he is making against the Prime Minister’s chief of staff – a man that the Prime Minister has stuck by and stood up for through thick and thin and through hell and high water since the outbreak of the Panama Papers, and in the face of what they proved beyond doubt in his respect.

Now the Opposition Leader has personally claimed that the chief of staff has taken kickbacks from the sale of citizenships, and he says he has the hard evidence to back up exactly what he is saying.

The Prime Minister, on his part, can continue to play the game of plausible deniability, claiming a lack of evidence or authenticity. This game could go on for a very long time and in the meantime it is the country, its institutions and its people who will bear the brunt of this cat and mouse game being played with truth and accountability – the very tenets of good governance that the Prime Minister had himself campaigned for and was elected for.

Now, four years down the road, what, exactly, is the critical mass of circumstantial evidence that will finally compel the Prime Minister to do the right thing.  Not the right thing by him, not the right thing by his party or supporters – but the right thing by the country?

With the country in full-blown campaign mode and with all the rumours about when the Prime Minister will finally call an election, the country has practically ground to a halt and it is only the Prime Minister that can put an end to the resulting uncertainty.

And after calling a general election to address the truth and accountability issue, a bad after taste that will linger in the general public’s mouths irrespective of who wins that election, the next immediate move must be for him to suspend his chief of staff and order an independent inquiry into the whole set of allegations.  Such inquiries could include the involvement of European investigative agencies such as EURPOL or OLAF so as to ensure public confidence.

That is because the filing of libel cases is certainly not enough, and in fact a magisterial inquiry may not be enough to set the public mind at ease in the wake of all that has been alleged.

And the best thing for the Prime Minister would be that given his hand-on-heart pledges of innocence, such a thorough inquiry would certainly clear his name as he so badly wants and needs.

Asked yesterday if he will be calling for an election on 1 May, the Prime Minister laughed and said “That’s my prerogative.”

Yes Mr Prime Minister, that is your prerogative.

Use it.

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