The Malta Independent 26 June 2022, Sunday

Updated: ‘Grech always takes confrontational approach on institutional appointments’ - PM

Semira Abbas Shalan Friday, 6 May 2022, 13:28 Last update: about 3 months ago

Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Friday that Opposition Leader Bernard Grech has refused to reach compromises over the appointment of important roles in the institution, such as the Parliament Speaker, the Ombudsman, and the Standards Commissioner for Public Life.

Answering a question by The Malta Independent about consulting with the PN regarding the appointment of these roles, Abela said that “the Opposition Leader has unfortunately always taken a stance where it is either his decision or no decision.” He added that the appointment of a new Ombudsman has been in discussion since March of last year, and a decision has yet to be reached.

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The appointment of the Parliamentary Speaker is to be held tomorrow during the first opening of Parliament for this legislature, where Anglu Farrugia is expected to take on the role once again. The PN has since announced that it will not back Farrugia in his re-appointment, calling for a more “impartial” Speaker.

Abela said that in this situation, Grech has taken a confrontational approach to deviate from the internal issues within the Nationalist party.

He said that Farrugia still has more to offer as Speaker of the house, and the government has always respected his decisions even if it was against it. With the same approach, Abela said that the government has also always respected decisions coming from Deputy Speaker Claudette Buttigieg, who came from the PN’s side, even if it felt unjust.

Abela said that the PL will be in favour of the appointment of the new Deputy Speaker David Agius, who is an MP from the Opposition side.

“I will not take a confrontational approach, not in the appointing of the Ombudsman nor in the Standards Commissioner post, which will become vacant in the coming weeks. Instead, the PL in government has a strong mandate to reach a compromise when possible, and so we will extend the same hand of friendship to reach a compromise over these decisions,” Abela said.

“A compromise does not necessarily mean that the Opposition’s decisions are the only ones taken, but rather I believe that the principle should be one of solidarity with the persons occupying these roles, as well as solidarity towards the major reforms we have made in the good governance sector,” Abela said.

Later in the day, PN leader Bernard Grech responded to the Prime Minister by saying that he is still open to discussion on the Speaker's appointment. "The hand of friendship that both me and the Prime Minister are offering should lead us to an agreement even now at this first opportunity," Grech said.

He appealed to the Prime Minister to find a solution together so that Parliament's impartiality can be respected and so that "the situation in the last legislature can be avoided."

Video: Viktoria Nikolla/Newsbook

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