The House of Representatives has paved the way for the inauguration of Dr George Vella as the tenth President of the Republic. The House approved the motion presented by PM Joseph Muscat and seconded by Opposition Leader Adrian Delia for Dr Vella to be appointed President on Thursday. During the same sitting, the House approved the motion thanking President Marie-Louise Coliero Preca for the work she has carried out in her role of President over the last five years. This motion was also presented by the PM and seconded by the Opposition Leader.
Dr Muscat said that a lot of persuasion was required for Dr Vella to accept the nomination. He said that this shows that Dr Vella is not someone who is out for power but is a statesman who symbolises democracy at its best. The PM said that another important quality of Dr Vella is his integrity and despite a long career in politics, no one has ever cast any doubts about him. He said that Dr Vella is a point of reference for whoever is in politics. The PM said that Dr Vella believes in being of service to others and was the same even in his medical profession.
The PM said that another quality which destingushes Dr Vella is his knowledge and fame in international politics. He said that in this sense Dr Vella would be following on the lines of President Guido Demarco. Dr Muscat said he believes that Dr Vella will lead an impeccable Presidency like all those who came before him.
Opposition Leader Adrian Delia said that the Opposition would have liked the Government to make a gesture in favour of national unity and put forward other names for this post. He added however that the PN is supporting the appointment of Dr Vella and said that he has full respect towards him. Dr Delia said that the Opposition would have liked this appointment to be approved with a 2/3 majority. Unfortunately, he added, not much progress was being made in talks on Constitutional reform.
He announced that he would be presenting an amendment for the President to start being appointed with a 2/3 majority and to increase the powers of the President to strengthen democracy and the country’s institutions. He said he was convinced that Dr Vella is worthy of this appointment and that his stature would take on the responsibility in the tests he had in front of him, including social challenges, the population, poverty, the protection of the most vulnerable as well as the environment which has become a victim of development.
Earlier, Parliament approved a motion to thank President Marie-Louise Coliero Preca. The PM said that her Presidency gave a voice to all those who did not have much of a voice, including minorities such as immigrants, vulnerable people, and children.
He thanked her for always maintaining confidentiality about the meetings held between the Government and the Opposition and when she felt the need to draw the attention of both sides over certain matters. He said that there are themes on which they had not always seen eye to eye, but he said she had always been consistent. He said that she had followed the steps of her predecessors and believes that she still has a lot to give in leading the Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society. He admitted that Malta does not have a tradition of using the collective knowledge of people like her. The PM did not exclude creating a State Council which would bring together people who would serve as a font of knowledge.
The Opposition Leader praised President Coliero Preca for the way she led the Presidency. He said that she did not use to look at political allegiance and pointed out that her staff came from different political beliefs, making the office of the President truly a Malta which belongs to us all. He said that President Coliero Preca made it her mission to help the weakest among us, even before she became President. He said that she had fulfilled her functions with loyalty and trust not only towards the country but towards every individual. Dr Delia said that when she was appointed President, the Cabinet lost a strong voice which used to speak up for the most vulnerable when it was most needed.
The Opposition Leader said that the President was an example of a woman who had succeeded without the need of any quotas. Dr Delia said that President Coliero Preca was someone who listened and that her work is exemplary for all politicians in order to defuse political division. He said that he hopes that she will continue to provide a service to Malta which needs a strong voice in favour of the most vulnerable in society.
Before the motions were presented, the Leader of the Democratic Party, Godfrey Farrugia said that the two MPs from his party would not be taking part in the debate on the two motions. In a statement, the PD expressed its thanks to President Coleiro Preca and also welcomed Dr Vella to the Presidency. It added however that it would not take part in this sitting because the Government had not amended the Constitution to have the President be appointed with a majority of 2/3 of the House.