The Malta Independent 22 September 2021, Wednesday

Speaker refuses PN’s request to urgently convene parliament for no confidence motion in Zammit Lewis

Tuesday, 3 August 2021, 19:59 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia has refused the Nationalist Party's request to convene Parliament with urgency to discuss a motion of no confidence in Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, the PN said in a statement.

The Speaker noted that what is being mentioned in the PN's motion is what was reported in the news and about that which was already presented in court proceedings. He also said that Minister Zammit Lewis had testified in the public inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia around a year ago, "and so what was reported has been in the public domain for many months."

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The Speaker said that when checking whether a request for the House to discuss material with immediacy has the required elements, after looking into whether the material is definite or of public importance, also weighs if the element of urgency is one that requires the House to discuss the material as it would otherwise be too late. "One notes that in similar requests the practice to see the positions of both sides and if agreement can be reached." The speaker found that the material in question does not fit the definition of urgency as described and, even in light of the fact that there was no agreement by the government, rejected the request.

News reports recently shared details about the Whatsapp chats between Yorgen Fenech and Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis - with one report showing how Zammit Lewis referred to Labour voters as 'Ġaħan' (fools) and another showing how Zammit Lewis had spoken with Fenech soon after he addressed a PL press conference ridiculing then PN leader Simon Busuttil's attempts to get the 17 Black company - which belongs to Fenech - investigated. The chats occurred before Fenech was arrested over the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, but after Fenech was found to be the owner of 17 Black.

The PN subsequently filed a motion of no confidence in Zammit Lewis, asking that Parliament meet urgently to discuss the matter.

"At the first opportunity Robert Abela had to accept the conclusions of the public inquiry, he immediately failed and was not able to realise that Zammit Lewis should not occupy the post of a government minister," the PN said.

"It is clear that Abela has his hands tied when it comes to acting against certain people in his Cabinet."

"Those who broke good governance cannot fix it, and that is why Zammit Lewis cannot implement the changes requested by the public inquiry, as he himself was close to the owner of 17 Black. For example, how will he introduce recommendations for the introduction of a law against abuse by public officials, when this same law will change his actions into a criminal act?"

The PN said that due to this conflict of interest, the PN is again calling for the minister to immediately resign and, if this is not done, for Abela to remove him from his post.

The motion will remain on the motion book, and the opposition will still have an opportunity to discuss it, but this is probably months away as it would likely be on a day when the opposition is allowed to discuss private member's bills and motions in Parliament, which occurs once every few months.


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