PN leader: ‘I am not my predecessors, there is no continuation from the past’

Opposition leader says testimonies in privileges committee ‘confirm’ Prime Minister interfered in the John Dalli investigation by removing former police commissioner John Rizzo

PN leader Simon Busuttil
PN leader Simon Busuttil

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil wants to break away from criticism attached to the Gonzi administration, insisting that the Nationalist Party under his helm is not a continuation from the past.

“I am not my predecessors, there is no continuation.  I come forward with different ideas, I look forward. I have learned from past mistakes. But today the PN has a new leader, there are new ideas and new faces,” Busuttil said.

Interviewed on Radio 101 by Frank Psaila, Busuttil said the PN was being rebuilt and no one could deny this.

Asked how he was different from any past leaders, Busuttil said he was determined and “reason” was his biggest force.

“My biggest force is reason and not insults or the banging on the tables. I am determined, and I am persuaded that the PN can give a better future.”

He said that by September, the PN will be fielding its first batch of candidates for the 2018 general elections and did not exclude any reshuffles in the shadow cabinet, if necessary.

Busuttil stood by his statements that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat interfered with the police investigations in the John Dalli case.

 The PN leader said testimonies before the privileges committee – a parliamentary committee discussing a complaint lodged by the Prime Minister against Busuttil – “confirm” what he has been saying all along.

“Former police commissioner John Rizzo once again said that he was prepared to arraign John Dall in court, but he didn’t because Dalli was abroad. When John Dalli returned to Malta, Peter Paul Zammit had replaced Rizzo,” Busuttil said.

He added that the Prime Minister’s “interference with the course of justice” was also evident in the government’s refusal to table an impeachment motion against Judge Lino Farrugia Sacco, who retires in 21 days.

The government said it wanted to proceed with caution after Farrugia Sacco took the matter to court, citing breach of fundamental human rights. But Busuttil insisted that this was a feeble excuse.

“Imagine parliament stops because every person decides to take a case to court. It is government’s excuse in its attempts to prove itself right. It is parliament’s job to do a motion but government is dragging its feet because Farrugia Sacco is Labour’s friend, and his son a candidate.”

Busuttil accused Muscat of taking over the Martin Galea case to gain political mileage out of the situation.

“It was all about publicity stunts and theatrics when the Prime Minister welcomed Martin Galea back. Why didn’t he rush back from abroad when Martin Galea went missing? The media took over government’s job and informed the nation that a Maltese person had been kidnapped.”

Busuttil said that if the government really thought it was a matter of national security, the least it could have done was inform him personally.

“The PM should have at least informed me… I have a Constitutional role. But not even that was respected.”

Once again, Busuttil took the government to task over a proposal to postpone all local council elections to 2019, to coincide with the European Parliament elections.

The government has cited costs incurred during elections and electoral fatigue as two reasons why the elections should be postponed.

The Opposition leader said one would have agreed with the government if no elections were planned for next year and 2017. Postponing the local council elections will now require amendments to the law.

“This is about democracy and this government is threatening it. The government is coming up with excuses that do not hold. [Joseph Muscat] says the electorate is tired of elections… yet Malta registers one of the highest rates of participation in elections across the EU.

“On the other hand, no one is forcing anyone to vote. But you cannot decide to take away their right to vote.”

Busuttil added that with an abrogative referendum against spring hunting being planned next year, “the government’s excuse citing costs also falls through”.