PN disappointed over PM’s 'refusal' to reach compromise on new standards czar

Nationalist Party to agree with motion to have retired judge Joseph Zammit McKeon as the new Ombudsman

File photo
File photo

The Nationalist Party has expressed its disappointment over the Prime Minister’s “refusal” to not reach a compromise on the appointment of a new Standards Commissioner.

“The Prime Minister, for months, has made it difficult for the two sides of the House to discuss the important appointments of an Ombudsman and Standards Commissioner,” the PN’s parliamentary group said in a statement.

Both posts require cross-party support since candidates are appointed by two-thirds majority in parliament.

The PN said that it would be agreeing with a motion to have retired judge Joseph Zammit McKeon as the new Ombudsman.

MaltaToday can confirm that Zammit McKeon’s name had been proposed for the role of ombudsman by Opposition leader Bernard Grech several months ago.

But the PN lamented that the PM would not budge on the appointment of former chief justice Joseph Azzopardi as new Standards Commissioner.

“This is leading to a situation where cases put forward to the commissioner are not investigated, and no decisions are taken on them,” it said.

On Wednesday, the PM said government is considering triggering an anti-deadlock mechanism for the appointment of the new standards commissioner.

Abela said the two candidates had been appointed judges during a PN administration and their reputation was untarnished.

He said he did not know why Bernard Grech was opposing the proposal but said he was ready to solve the impasse by resorting to an anti-deadlock mechanism.

The law only allows this mechanism for the standards office.

The PN parliamentary group urged the PM to be open to discussions on the appointment, in order to ensure a candidate receives a parliamentary approval by two-thirds of the House.

Reacting to the PN statement, the Labour Party said Grech backtracked on his statement on the standards commissioner.

“In discussions regarding the Ombudsman and the Standards Commissioner appointments, the Opposition Leader had agreed with the Prime Minister's proposal for Chief Justice emeritus Joe Azzopardi to be nominated to the post of Standards Commissioner, and for judge Joseph Zammit McKeon to be nominated for the post of Ombudsman," it said.

The PL said the PN has a distorted view on democracy.

“For them, democracy only means that what they want always goes through. There is no valid reason as to why the nomination of a former judge is acceptable, but a Chief Justice emeritus is not. In these circumstances, the government must assure that the needed steps are taken so that both posts are filled,” it said.