The President of Malta Dr George Vella has finally broken his silence: Adrian Delia is to stay on as leader of the Opposition.
In a lengthy statement explaining the rational behind the decision, the President said that while he is satisfied that Delia does not enjoy the trust of the majority of the opposition, the constitutional interpretation given to him by lawyers led him to this decision.
Meeting the MPs
The President said that he met not only with Dr Delia but also with 28 members of the parliamentary Opposition. He said that 16 expressed ‘no confidence’ in Delia, 11 were behind him and one abstained. “This confirmed the fact that Dr Delia no longer enjoyed the trust of the majority of the MPs of the party in opposition which has the largest numerical grouping” said the presidential statement.
Turning to the constitution, the presidential statement said that that what is pertinent to the case is not only the decision itself but what comes after the decision. The president added that removing Dr Delia would mean finding a replacement since the constitution is clear in that there must be a leader of the opposition. The statement added that the constitution clearly states that the role must be filled by the leader of the party who commands the largest numerical majority. The statement said that while the removal and re-appointment of Delia to the position of leader of the opposition may be contrary to the spirit of the law, the appointment of someone as leader of the parliamentary opposition who is not the leader of the party goes against the spirit and letter of the law. “This situation causes a legal and constitutional impasse” said the presidential statement
The President said that the decision rested on the horns of a dilemma: to respect the letter of the constitution and create a situation which is unconstitutional or to consider the current situation as ‘special and adopt ‘special’ measures. In the circumstances, he said, while Delia no longer enjoys the trust of the majority of the opposition, he is still the leader of the party. So, in order not to leave vacant the position of Leader of the Opposition, he should not be removed from the position of leader of the opposition as he is still leader of the largest party in opposition.
The presidential statement concluded that the current situation is unprecedented and expressed the hope that steps will be taken to clarify the situation. “The necessity to retain the continuity in the workings of our parliamentary system justifies, in my opinion, the need to depart from the letter of the law.” concluded the President, stressing his obligation to safeguard the stability of the country.