The Malta Independent 27 September 2020, Sunday

Protest: Repubblika did not invite PN, any political party, 'but will not oppose anyone who attends'

Kevin Schembri Orland Friday, 15 November 2019, 09:16 Last update: about 12 months ago

Repubblika will not be opposing anyone who comes to the protest against injustice on Saturday, whatever their political colour, the civil society organisation’s President Vicki Ann Cremona told The Malta Independent.

On Monday, the Office of the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri dropped a libel case he had instituted against former PN leader Simon Busuttil in order to avoid answering questions on the infamous 17 Black. Schembri later said he had done so reluctantly, but insisted he was answering all questions put to him in a magisterial inquiry on the subject. An anti-corruption protest was organised by civil society NGOs Repubblika and Occupy Justice, and is on the same day as the monthly vigil to Daphne Caruana Galizia.

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On Wednesday, the Nationalist Party issued a statement and said it will take part in a demonstration against corruption which is being organised by civil society groups Repubblika and Occupy Justice. A PN spokesperson told confirmed with this newsroom yesterday that Adrian Delia will be attending. Delia has not had the best of relationships with these NGOs in the past.

The spokesperson said that he is not aware of there having been any communication between the PN and the civil society groups on the PN’s attendance.

President of Repubblika Vicki Ann Cremona, asked whether there had been any communication with the PN prior to the party announcing that it will be attending Saturday’s protest, and whether they are ok with the PN attending, said that Repubblika did not invite the PN or any political party to attend “but we are not going to oppose anybody who comes to protest against injustice whatever their political colour. There is a distinction to be made between political and politics. Wanting transparency is the right of every citizen, and every citizen who wants to protest in favour of transparency should do so irrespective of his or her political party. The issue of corruption is a national issue.

“That does not mean that we are going to allow anybody to take over the demonstration. People are allowed to come, this is a free country. Telling people not to come would impede on their freedom and you cannot do that. We are all there to fight corruption.”

“We will speak out against corruption wherever that lies. We cannot tell people not to come, but when you come you are going to have to listen to what we have to say.”

She explained that for the protest, they will be remembering Daphne Caruana Galizia, marking 25 months since her assassination. “Daphne Caruana Galizia was the first person to alert us to the current corruption. Every month, on the day she dies, we hold a vigil in her memory to remind the courts and the authorities that justice has not yet been done.

“Coincidentally, this past week there was the Keith Schembri court case. A person who was asked to take the stand five times in a court case he instituted himself, and then ends up giving up the case instead of answering questions, whether he did so reluctantly or not, he did not testify. My personal suspicion is that he has something to hide. The fact that Keith Schembri did not answer in court leads to justified questions as to what he is hiding. And if he is hiding it then it cannot be something good.

“The fact is that this person has not testified and is under suspicion. He is the highest official within the Office of the Prime Minister. This isn’t any Tom, Dick, or Harry, saying he doesn’t want to be incriminated. The fact that you are a senior official at such a high level means that he needs to step away from his position until all the issues are cleared.

 “The role of the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff has to be transparent, but it is not right now as we do not know whether he is not testifying because he is guilty or for any other reason,”  she said.

“The point is that he has put the Prime Minister’s office, of which he is responsible, in a very opaque light when this should be the office that leads by example and is transparent. This, in addition to other issues, like his Panama companies and other issues leads to speculation, and people are justified in speculating.”

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