Carmelo Abela should resign over Caruana Galizia recall – Azzopardi

Andrew Caruana Galizia Carmelo Abela

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

In a normal country, former Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela would have resigned after ordering that Andrew Caruana Galizia should be recalled from Malta’s High Commission in India with no apparent justification, Nationalist Party MP Jason Azzopardi insisted.

Azzopardi, who is also one of the lawyers of the Caruana Galizia family, was speaking in Parliament during debate on a bill amending the Commissioners for Oaths Ordinance to allow persons appointed with government agencies and government entities to be appointed as commissioners for oaths. There was no contention over the simple bill, which was ultimately approved without a vote, so the MP instead focused on what came out in the latest sitting of the public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

In Wednesday’s sitting, the inquiry heard the testimony of Fiona Formosa, who had been permanent secretary in the Foreign Affairs Ministry when Andrew Caruana Galizia, one of the late journalist’s three sons, was ordered to return from New Delhi. She confirmed that the recall came on the order of Carmelo Abela less than a month after the 2017 general election, and that the High Commissioner of Malta to India Stephen Borg had protested the decision in light of Caruana Galizia’s service.

Azzopardi was adamant that Abela punished the young diplomat in a bid to “break the spirit” of his mother, at a time when her assassination was already being planned. He said that Caruana Galizia had received excellent reviews, was subject to no complaints and was sorely needed in New Delhi where, he pointed out, his replacement only arrived in October of that year.

He noted that one of the first things Abela did when he became Foreign Minister was to order the recall, “orally; he lacked the courage to do so in writing because he is a coward.”

The MP questioned whether the minister did so on his own accord or whether he was made to do so by others, and that in any case, the public deserved an explanation.

“He is a cowardly minister, one who does not deserve the title of minister. In a normal country, Carmelo Abela would resign,” he maintained.

Public sector has ‘sacrosanct right’ to use resources as it deems fit – Muscat

Since Azzopardi made little mention to the bill being discussed save for acknowledging there was nothing objectionable about it, Parliamentary Secretary for Citizenship Alex Muscat did the same in his winding up speech, before rejecting Azzopardi’s argument.

He argued that the MP was calling for the resignation of every minister and parliamentary secretary who had chosen to redeploy civil servants, and if so, then everyone would need to resign.

“The public sector has a sacrosanct right to use its human resources as it deems fit,” Muscat maintained, insisting that Azzopardi’s insinuations were absurd.

Muscat insisted that the MP’s claims that Caruana Galizia was recalled to Malta in retaliation for his mother’s writings was not only unjust, but also disrespectful to the young diplomat himself. He said that Caruana Galizia had an important role to play in Malta.

The parliamentary secretary also observed that Caruana Galizia had received a promotion in 2014.