Pullicino Orlando says President is reviewing cohabitation bill

If it is ready, why hasn't the draft law on cohabitation been published? Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando asks.

Divorce bill promoter Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando has claimed President George Abela has demanded to see the draft cohabitation bill being planned by the government, which he is reviewing for his scrutiny.

“If the cohabitation law is ready, why haven’t we seen it?,” Pullicino Orlando told a press conference outside the Office of the Prime Minister in Valletta.

The Nationalist MP called for the publication of the bill, one of several pledges from a 1998 PN electoral manifesto that was never followed on in subsequent manifestos and only announced late in 2010 after Pullicino Orlando submitted his draft divorce bill.

Pullicino Orlando said that Abela's comments on cohabitation made during his speech at the opening of the 2008 legislature were being used as a basis for the introduction of the cohabitation law. "Similarly to the divorce bill, no government has an electoral mandate for a cohabitation law. A mandate is not given through a legislature’s opening speech.”

Asked what will happen if the referendum does not pass, Pullicino Orlando said that pro divorce lobby Moviment Iva would respect the people’s decision and withdraw the bill. 

Present at the conference were also Labour MP Evarist Bartolo and former Nationalist MP Michael Falzon who said that the €35 return flights from Air Malta were announced two weeks after the publication of the referendum week contrary to the practice of announcing them immediately.

Falzon said that during the last election, 3,000 people had come to Malta to vote: “Adding this amount to the 2,800 who have been denied their vote because of an expired register, some 5,800 will be denied their right to vote.”

Falzon added that he thought Malta was past the time of such manoeuvres: “The last time I recall a similar situation was during the 1987 elections.”

Bartolo appealed for a “calm, honest campaign led by correctness."

“Voters will be asked to take a serious decision, and it should be based on reason and not on fear and lies,” Bartolo said. He reiterated that divorce will be a right used by those who need it.

He said that in the first four months of this year, 21 divorces were registered in Malta: “This number already surpasses half of what was registered in 2010.”

Referring to report published by Discern, a research institute, Bartolo said by 2015 those who would have passed through marriage breakdowns will amount to 35,000.

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Nissoponi li mhux ha tiigi published ghalissa. L-PN favur il-pogguti imma kontra li terga' tizzewweg. Daqsxejn redikola bhala posizzjoni ghallura ahjar tithalla taht it-tapit ghalissa.