The Malta Independent 2 February 2023, Thursday
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George Vella, if appointed President, would break 25-year ‘legal’ hold on presidency

Stephen Calleja Monday, 14 January 2019, 11:22 Last update: about 5 years ago

If George Vella, as reported by The Malta Independent, is sworn in as Malta’s next President of the Republic, he would be breaking a 25-year hold of the Maltese presidency by members of the legal profession.

Vella, a former Foreign Minister and deputy leader of the Labour Party, retired from politics at the end of the last legislature, having served as an MP between 1978 and 2017, except for the 1981-1987 term.

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He is the favourite to be appointed as Malta’s 10th President in April, when the five-year term in office for Marie Louise Coleiro Preca expires.

A doctor by profession, Vella would become the second member of the medical profession to take responsibility of the highest position in the country. The first and only doctor to be named President so far was Censu Tabone, who served the country as its head of state between 1989 and 1994.

Since then, the post has been occupied by four lawyers and a notary public.

The four lawyers are Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, who was President between 1994 and 1999, Guido de Marco between 1999 and 2004, Eddie Fenech Adami between 2004 and 2009 and George Abela between 2009 and 2014.

Coleiro Preca, a notary public, was appointed in 2014 and she will hand over the reins on 4 April, a date that has come to be associated with the presidency since the last six Presidents have been appointed on the fourth day of the fourth month.

Coleiro Preca is the ninth President of the Republic, the seventh to come from the legal profession.

The first two Presidents were also lawyers, Sir Anthony Mamo, who was in charge when Malta became a republic in 1974 until he was replaced by Anton Buttigieg, who was President between 1976 and 1981.

Apart from Censu Tabone, the only other President of the Republic who did not come from the legal profession was Agatha Barbara, who served between 1982 and 1987. Barbara was a teacher by profession.

Albert Hyzler and Paul Xuereb served as acting presidents – never getting the full title of President – respectively between December 1981 and February 1982, and between February 1987 and April 1989. Hyzler was a doctor while Xuereb worked in journalism and education.

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