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USA UK and Malta News
19/01/2012 - 17:20

Malta news: political crisis

Malta news: political crisis - Political crisis: No-confidence vote on 26 January - Cost-cutting throws doubts on travel arrangements for voters - Captain said 'it's just a blackout'

Malta news: political crisis
Political crisis: No-confidence vote on 26 January
Days of uncertainty about a possible date for the vote on the Opposition’s no-confidence motion came to an end yesterday, when the House Business Committee took only 10 minutes to agree that it will be held today week. It is apparent that both sides came to terms before the HBC meeting, held on the Speaker’s initiative, took place at 4.15pm yesterday. Two hours earlier, the Nationalist Party parliamentary group ended a two-hour meeting in which it was decided that 26 January was to be the date when the vote is taken. It was agreed yesterday that the debate, as agreed at a first HBC meeting, will start in parliament on Monday evening, and will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday evening. On Thursday morning the debate will continue until the vote is taken at noon. Yesterday’s meeting was held because in a first HBC meeting last Monday the two sides could not agree how the no-confidence motion was to be debated, and how long it would have taken, with the government seemingly trying to delay the vote as much as possible. By agreeing to go for a 26 January solution, the government seems to have taken note of comments that further procrastination was detrimental to its interests. Two motions were presented by the Opposition last Thursday; a no-confidence motion and a second procedural motion, which proposed that the discussion is held today and limiting the debate to 180 minute.(independent.com.mt)

Cost-cutting throws doubts on travel arrangements for voters
Another general election may be taking place shortly, but arrangements allowing Maltese expatriates to vote without having to travel to Malta remain elusive. And, in the light of the announcement that the government is on a cost-cutting spree and Air Malta has been in dire financial straits for years, it is still unclear whether Maltese voters who live abroad but are eligible to vote will be offered cheap flights to be here on election day. Questions in this respect sent to the airline were not answered, and government spokesmen have not been forthcoming either. The reduction of costs is currently a priority for both the national airline and the government: the former is undergoing restructuring in a bid to avoid going under, and is set to offload many workers to try to balance out its books, and the latter has just revised its 2012 Budget to cut public sector costs by €40 million, following advice by the European Commission. Therefore, an offer for Maltese staying abroad to come over to vote has still not been drafted. During the last three national polls – the 2008 general election, the 2009 European election and the 2011 divorce referendum – expatriate voters could avail themselves of return tickets for just €35, inclusive of taxes and charges. Each time, they could stay in Malta for at least two weeks, perhaps tempting many to seize the opportunity for a cheap holiday.(independent.com.mt)

Captain said 'it's just a blackout'
A new audiotape has emerged of the captain of the stricken cruise ship Costa Concordia insisting that the vessel only had a blackout a full 30 minutes after it had rammed into a reef. The tape is of the first contact between Livorno port officials and Capt Francesco Schettino. The captain, who left the ship before everyone was safely evacuated, is under house arrest, facing possible charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship. The Costa Concordia was carrying more than 4,200 passengers and crew when it slammed into well-charted rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio after Schettino made an unauthorised diversion Friday. The ship then keeled over on its side. Eleven people have been confirmed dead and 21 others are still missing. The recording between Schettino and port officials began at 10:12 pm on Friday, a good 30 minutes after the ship violently hit a reef and panicked passengers had fled the dining room to get their lifejackets.(timesofmalta.com)

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