[WATCH] George Vella will be Malta’s next President

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat made the announcement on Twitter • Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca endorses nomination, to head Foundation of Social Wellbeing

Dr George Vella will be Malta's 10th President
Dr George Vella will be Malta's 10th President

Former Foreign Affairs Minister and Labour Party deputy leader George Vella will be Malta’s president, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced on Tuesday.

“Following Constitutional consultations, I decided to submit the nomination of George Vella as President of Malta,” Muscat wrote on Twitter.

“I am proud of unanimous endorsement by cabinet and the Labour parliamentary group. I am sure Dr Vella will be another unifying figure for our people and country.”

Vella, 76, will be sworn in on the 4 April and will be Malta's 10th president.

READ MORE: Appoint a Nationalist President, Delia challenges Prime Minister

Back in January MaltaToday reported that the Zejtun doctor was reluctant to accept the offer to succeed President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca. 

In addition to announcing Vella’s nomination, Muscat thanked outgoing President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca for her “sterling work” over the last five years.

“Cabinet has unanimously resolved a vote of thanks to the President for her sterling work. We are glad that she will continue with her contribution towards Maltese society through the Foundation for Social Wellbeing,” Muscat said. 

Reacting to the announcement, the Labour Party said Vella was known for his integrity, adding that he had a long history in public life, having represented Malta in the international sphere.

The PL said there was no doubt that Vella would serve the nation in the best way possible and in the interest of all Maltese and Gozitan people.

The party also thanked outgoing President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca for her “impeccable” work, including her work which gave a voice to many people across society.

Labour MEP Alfred Sant said Vella’s nomination was well deserved and poured praise over his former deputy prime minister. “He has been a witness for capability, intelligence, integrity and tolerance. I learnt much from seeing him work, taking decisions to the benefit of Malta and the Maltese, without any hint of partisanship. He took these decisions with courage and honesty.”

Sant said he was convinced Vella serve this role with sincerity, justice and wisdom, and work as an agent of genuine unity for all Maltese and Gozitans. He also paid tribute to Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, whom he said had fulfilled her duties impeccably. “She gave her office a social dimension and proved how one can act as a guide in this role to the greater benefit of the country. The Maltese should be grateful for what she managed to achieve.”

‘Missed opportunity’ – PN

The Nationalist Party however said that Vella’s nomination showed that the Prime Minister wasn’t “able to resist internal partisan pressure, for him not to nominate someone from the opposing political camp, or to choose someone that enjoys the confidence of a two-thirds parliamentary majority”.

“This when considering that there was more than enough time for this to be done,” the PN said, adding that a more unifying figure would have been “the first clear step that shows that the Government wants to enact serious change that give credibility back to the country and its institutions”.

The PN said that in addition to having missed an opportunity for more national unity, it was also a missed opportunity to have a greater balance of power and safeguarding of the constitution and the institutions as recommended by the Venice Commission.

“The PN has already proposed that the Venice Commission’s recommendations be immediately implemented in full in order to assure the independence of the country’s institutions and for these same institutions to truly serve citizens, rather than being used in a manner which suits the government.”

The Democratic Party said the nomination of the President of the Republic was the prerogative of the Prime Minister and that this was formalised in Parliament.

“Dr George Vella was always a capable politician,” the PD said. “In the context of the present political scenario, it would have been prudent had the choice been a person perceived to be close to all citizens of Malta and Gozo.”

George Vella biography

Like Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, George Vella belongs to a generation of Labour politicians who worked under all post-independence party leaders.

He is considered to be a mentor to Muscat, having actively supported his 2008 leadership bid against former co-deputy leader George Abela.

A popular family doctor from Zejtun, he was first elected to parliament in 1976 and served in the House of Representatives until 2017.

Vella was deputy prime minister in the Alfred Sant administration of 1996-1998.

Though elected from a Labourite stronghold, which at one point was notorious for its loyalty to firebrand Wistin Abela, Vella was respected for his loyalty, moderate views and strong opposition to thuggery in politics.

His first ministerial position was as foreign and environment minister when he also served as deputy prime minister during Sant’s short premiership.

Of Malta’s nine presidents, only the first was not a former politician – Anthony Mamo, the Chief Justice at the time, who was appointed when Malta became a republic in 1974.

All other presidents of the republic were former senior government ministers, MPs or occupied posts within a political party. Eddie Fenech Adami was the only prime minister to go on and become president.

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