Malta’s permanent representative to the EU Richard Cachia Caruana described the charges listed in the motion tabled by the Opposition as unfounded, grave and defamatory. Mr Cachia Caruana issued this declaration yesterday evening in his testimony during the European and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, as part of the debate regarding the motion tabled by Labour MPs George Vella and Luciano Busuttil against him. The Opposition is accusing Mr Cachia Caruana of bypassing parliament to reactivate Partnership for Peace (PfP) membership and of acting in the interest of foreign countries rather than defending Malta’s interests. Yesterday’s meeting was highly anticipated with several government MPs and Cabinet members present to follow proceedings. In his statement, Mr Cachia Caruana categorically denied the charges against him describing them as libellous. He stated that he had followed the orders of the Prime Minister and had always acted in the national interest. He denied any involvement in discussions with foreign governments regarding foreign policy issues without the government’s consent or that he had discussed an arrangement to bypass parliamentary scrutiny. Mr Cachia Caruana also denied any form of behaviour on his part which might be interpreted as placing the interest of other countries before Malta’s. He added that if these allegations were made outside Parliament he would have taken legal proceedings to clear his name. He said that he had been loyal to the country for 24 years and complained that the Opposition had made these charges without having the decency of approaching him for an explanation.(independent.com.mt) This case is becoming increasingly important.
Carm Mifsud Bonnici motion: Speaker accepts resignation amendment
Speaker Michael Frendo yesterday morning accepted the Opposition’s amendment to the motion against Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, who served as Justice and Home Affairs Minister when the motion was moved. This changed the motion from one of censure to one calling for the minister’s resignation. Dr Frendo said that the last sentence of the original motion requested the censure of the minister’s performance and for political responsibility to be shouldered. He therefore concluded that the minister’s resignation was implied in the original motion, so he accepted the amendment. The amendment was tabled at the end of the opening address on Wednesday but Foreign Affairs Minister Tonio Borg objected, arguing that it substantially changed the motion’s purpose. Quoting parliamentary procedure, he said that such amendments could only be made with the consent of the entire House. He had added that the change is not cosmetic but material and was not moved before the motion started to be discussed. Otherwise, this would have made things totally different. Labour Party deputy leader Anglu Farrugia had said amendments are presented at any stage of discussion and there should therefore not be any objections. Explaining the reasoning behind his decision, Dr Frendo said that the Speaker has the power to choose the amendment and does not need the permission of the House, although there are some exceptions. He also commented that an amendment moved at the end of the motion’s opening address is made at the opportune time. After also considering several similar decisions taken over the years and the meaning of the word censure, the Speaker concluded, quoting Erskine May, that the amendment needs to be relevant to the subject. In this case, it was and he accepted it. Opposition leader Joseph Muscat said that the amendment clarifies things. It calls for responsibility to be shouldered and while requesting this, the Opposition too is carrying responsibility.(independent.com.mt) Maybe this will calm things.
Debono: I will not vote against the government in the confidence and RCC votes
Nationalist MP Franco Debono told timesofmalta.com tonight that he will not vote against the government in the confidence vote on Monday and on the vote on the censure motion against Richard Cachia Caruana. "I will surely not vote against the government in either of them" he said. "They (the government) have known my position on Cachia Caruana for a long time. My criticism of Mr Cachia Caruana is different from that of the Opposition," Dr Debono said. As for today's vote, Dr Debono said the prime minister had known what would happen for a year. "We did not need to go through all this, he (the minister) could have resigned, the end result is the same," Dr Debono said. "I am a firm Nationalist but I had no alternative today in view of the minister's shortcomings in the running of the ministry.(timesofmalta.com) Why did he don't vote?