The Malta Independent 13 November 2019, Wednesday

Government directive allows under-18 councillors to be deputy mayors, but runs counter to law

Wednesday, 26 June 2019, 16:35 Last update: about 6 months ago

The Parliamentary Secretariat for Local Government has just released a directive which goes against current laws, PN Whip and spokesman for local government Robert Cutajar told The Malta Independent when asked.

The Directive allows local councillors under the age of 18, who got the most votes after the Mayor, to be elected Deputy Mayor. The directive is set to come into effect on 1 July 2019.

Article 25A (1) of the Local Councils Act states that "A person under eighteen years of age who is an elected councillor and who has obtained the majority of votes amongst the candidates of the party which obtains the majority of first count votes is not declared Mayor." The article goes on to state that "the  provisions  of  sub-article  (1)  shall mutatis mutandis apply if there is a vacancy in the office of Deputy Mayor."

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Asked about the directive by this newsroom, Cutajar said that the Opposition was not consulted on this directive, and said that he has communicated with the Local Government Ministry.

There is at least one PL councillor who will benefit from this particular change in St Paul's Bay, Carlos Zarb.

The directive does not however change anything for mayors. So councillors under the age of 18 who received enough votes to be elected mayor, such as was the case with PN councillor Abraham Aquilina in Gharghur, still would not be able to be elected mayor.

In addition, the directive is so specific that it is unlikely that those who received enough votes to be mayor would be able to take up the post of deputy mayor.

The directive reads: "in the case of councillors aged under 18 who received the largest amount of votes after the mayor, the direction is that they can take the position of deputy mayor."

Another question with this directive arises. If the Deputy Mayor is required to preside over council sessions due to the mayor being indisposed, would that also clash in terms of the law?

 


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