The President’s silence drags into the third day

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Three days ago, President George Vella concluded his consultation meetings with the PN MPs on the situation in the Opposition benches in Parliament. So far there is no indication as to whether he has reached a decision to remove Adrian Delia from the position of Leader of the opposition and replace him with Therese Comodini Cachia.

Meanwhile, with an important meeting of the Executive Committee of the Partit Nazzjonalista looming for Tuesday evening, both the pro-Delia factions as well as the anti-Delia Group which has a majority of MPs supporting it are carrying on incessant lobbying.

An almost blank diary

The President’s diary which is published every weekend shows an almost blank journal. The Weekend was practically free of all activities and on Monday he had a 14:00h meeting with the Commission for the Administration of Justice. Informed sources close to the political milieu do not exclude that the seemingly blank days were used by the President to consult with his legal advisors as well as for quiet time to mull over his decision. The same sources said that the President confirmed that a majority of MPs do not want Adrian Delia to remain as leader of the Opposition. The president, however, seems to be as yet undecided as to what should happen after Delia’s removal.

Three constitutional experts went public saying that the President should appoint the person who is deemed to have the greatest backing to bring together an opposition. On the other hand, the President’s legal advisors have remained in the shadows and are giving the president different permutations of what they deem to be possible scenarios under constitutional law. One such legal advice is that Delia should be removed and re-appointed. This was mooted to the PN MPs during the consultation sessions. In reply, the PN MPs asked: “If a beam is riddled with woodworm, would you remove it and replace it with the same beam?”.

Another legal opinion mooted to the President is the removal of Delia and leaving the Leadership of the opposition empty. Sources who spoke to Newsbook.com.mt said that this would mean that the solution would then have to be found by the PN or by the constitutional courts. In his Sunday address, Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party Robert Abela seemed to favour this road with a solution being found by the PN rather than by the President. The PL media has been campaigning in favour of Delia for days.

Stephen Spiteri does not reply to Newsbook.com.mt

In a PN Parliamentary group meeting last week, 17MPs and 2MEPs expressed a ‘no-confidence’ vote in PN leader Adrian Delia. In the same meeting, 10 MPs and Delia himself voted for confidence in the leader. On Monday morning, MP Stephen Spiteri, in a comment edited and broadcast on the Labour Party’s One News, was understood as saying that in spite of being one of the 19, he had ‘abstain’ when he met the President. Newsbook.com.mt tried to contact Spiteri to clarify what exactly he had ‘abstained’ about: was it about whether Delia should remain leader of the opposition or was it about whether Therese Comodini Cachia should take over that role?

Repeated calls by Newsbook.com.mt remained unanswered.

Informed sources told Newsbook.com.mt that elements from the Pro-Delia camp may have jumped ship when questioned by the President. This however could not be verified independently.

A crucial meeting

As the country waits with bated breath the decision by the President of Malta, relentless lobbying is being carried out in the party circles prior to what is being considered as a potentially do-or-die Executive Committee meeting. Until the time of writing, there has been no motion raised to the committee requesting a vote of confidence in the leader. Neither is there any motion requesting the expulsion of the 19 members from PN MPS and MEPs.

However, on the social media and among the grassroots of the PN, pro-Delia supporters are baying for the blood of these ’19 traitors’ and calling for their expulsion from the party. Newsbook.com.mt on Sunday asked Delia if he was going to request their expulsion, Delia’s reply seemed to indicate that he would not be doing so.