Malta mourns Guido de Marco, dead at 79 State Funeral to be held on Monday

Malta is in shock at the news yesterday that former President Guido de Marco has died aged 79.

Government has declared three days of national mourning, while a State Funeral will be held on Monday afternoon in Valletta.

President Emeritus Guido de Marco will lie in State at the Palace in Valletta between tomorrow Saturday and Monday morning.

A funeral cortege will leave for St. John's Co-Cathederal in Valletta at 3.30 pm where mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Paul Cremona and other Bishops.

From Valletta, the funeral will continue in private form.

The 79 year-old former Head of State died at Mater Dei Hospital at 4.18 of yesterday, soon after being rushed back  in a critical condition after falling ill at his home in Sliema.

Two days earlier he was discharged from hospital after recovering from serious complications before an angioplasty procedure. He was critical for two days but recovered quickly and was removed from life-support, only to comment with the media that he felt he was "born again."

His death has shocked a nation, with many expressing incredulity at the news of his demise.

Condolences poured in from all political parties. The Nationalist Party said De Marco had united the population as president and was a unique personality and politician who served his country with loyalty, duty and love.

The President of the Republic George Abela who rushed to Mater Dei hospital soon after he heard the news, described Guido de Marco as a "statesman, gentleman" and added that "few were the men like Guido de Marco who made a good name for Malta overseas and saluted the man as "the one who worked so hard to lead Malta into joining the European Union."

Tributes have flowed from all of de Marco's former colleagues with Eddie Fenech Adami describing his loss as '"one of his saddest moments," while Acting Prime Minister Tonio Borg defined de Marco as "a true patriot'.

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi who is cutting short a private holiday in Germany has paid tribute to Guido de Marco describing him as an "intelligent, open hearted and a visionary."

Gonzi added that "Malta has lost one of its most respected sons."

Labour leader Joseph Muscat said De Marco was a "formidable politician who great oratory and struck people with his humanity." He said just hours before being discharged from hospital on Tuesday, De Marco had called Muscat to thank him for the interest he had taken in his health, and had asked about his own unfortunate accident earlier this week. "It was a gesture that I truly appreciated," Muscat said.

Michael Briguglio, AD Chairperson said: "Malta has lost a true gentleman, a true visionary and an exemplary statesman who never shied away from speaking for peace, justice, respect and democracy. Our condolences go to the de Marco family in this difficult moment."

Further tributes were made by Alternattiva Demokratika, trade unions and constituted bodies who all had praise for Guido de Marco.

Prof. Guido de Marco was born in Valletta, Malta on July 22, 1931, and was educated at St. Aloysius' College and the University of Malta. He graduated as a Bachelor of Arts in 1952, in Philosophy, Economics and Italian and in 1955 as a Doctor of Laws.

He was married to Violet (née Saliba), and had three children: Mario, who is parliamentary secretary for tourism, and two daughters, Gianella and Fiorella, all members of the legal profession.

He first contested the 1962 elections with the Partit Demokratiku Nazzjonalista and then joined the Nationalist Party, winning election to Parliament in 1966 and was returned to Parliament at every General Election  until 1998.

He held the post of secretary-general of the PN between 1972 and 1977, when he was elected PN deputy leader. When the Nationalist Party was returned to office in 1987, de Marco was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior and Justice.

Under his ministerial stewardship, he integrated the European Convention of Human Rights into Maltese law, modernised the police force, and as foreign minister he submitted Malta's application for membership of the European Communities in Brussels in 1990.

Representing the United Nations General Assembly, as its President, de Marco undertook a number of diplomatic initiatives leading to his visit to the refugee camps in the Occupied Territories and Jordan, to Ethiopia and Albania. As President of the United Nations General Assembly he also visited the North Korea and South Korea in May 1991, leading to the admission of these two countries to the United Nations, as well as Chernobyl and Czechoslovakia.

In January 1992, at the CSCE Council in Prague, Malta launched Prof. de Marco's initiative to declare the CSCE a regional arrangement in terms of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, a proposal which was later approved by the Heads of State and Government at the Helsinki Summit.

He was re-appointed Deputy Prime Minister of Malta and Minister of Foreign Affairs on September 8, 1998, following the Nationalist Party's victory at the 1998 General Elections, a capacity which he held until his nomination to the Presidency of Malta. On the September 11, 1998, he presented Malta's request for the reactivation of its application for membership to the European Union.

On 4 April 1999, he was appointed President of Malta.

For me the title is awful. One should not write 'dead at 79' ...but passed away or something a bit more decent and less harsh. Surely the person who wrote the article seems not to be emotional about this. Secondly the person named 'is sewwa jirbah...' is just a sick person. How dare you say such things towards such a noble person and to a family undergoing such grief?! Surely with your attitude noone will be crying your loss one day! Condolences to the De Marco family. He was a great man.
Phillip Martin Micallef
God is really great!!................death is the fairest thing on earth!..........i recon de marco and family would have bought it!