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Franco Debono Speaks Out As Major Reforms Enacted Nine Years After He Proposed Them

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Malta’s Parliament has agreed to implement a raft of major constitutional reform and for one former Nationalist MP, this means more.

Franco Debono had proposed these reforms way back in 2011 but they were ignored by the PN government of the day and only picked by the PL government several years later.

“Many are calling these the Venice Commission’s proposals but thats not the truth,” he said. “The truth is that I had proposed these reforms in Parliament and this country should tell itself the truth.”

The reforms will see the President of the Republic chosen by Parliament, with a two-thirds majority of MPs needed to confirm them. Following a demand by the Opposition, the government won’t be allowed to select a President if a nominee twice fails to obtain the support of two-thirds of MPs.

The reform will also see the President empowered to appoint judges and magistrates. People interested in joining the judiciary will apply at the Judicial Appointments Committee, whose structure will be revised to ensure that four out of seven of its members will be judges and magistrates.

The committee will then send the President a report shortlisting three candidates, and the President will choose one of them and publish the names of the other two.

A full explainer of the reforms can be found here.

Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis has hailed this agreement as a historic moment for Malta and a sign of the government’s commitment to strengthening the rule of law and good governance.

Opposition leader Adrian Delia also described the agreement as historic, saying the Opposition was crucial in ensuring further safeguards were included in the final package.

He thanked Zammit Lewis, as well as Chris Said, the PN’s spokesperson for constitutional reform who recently spearheaded an event to remove Delia as Opposition leader.

However, Debono said the PN must now look deep into the mirror after apprving these reforms.

“An MP had proposed these same reforms several years ago and was ignored, while moves to silence him were made with the blessing of the leader [Lawrence Gonzi],” he said.

“That same leader who tried to silence dissent now feels free to vote against the current PN leader.”

“If some see these reforms as a remedy to [Joseph] Muscat’s mistakes, they will effectively be saying that Gonzi could have prevented these mistakes but left the proposals on his desk.”

He urged Gonzi and other people involved in the last PN administration to admit they were wrong in sidelining him and other people.

“Unless the PN recognises these shortcomings, it will never recover. Wrong decisions were taken that hurt people and the pain is still there. If it acts as though nothing happened, it will never get stronger.”

What do you make of Franco Debono’s argument and these new constitutional reforms?

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