'I hope new Prime Minister works for benefit of the majority,' President says at New Year's greetings

President George Vella tells Joseph Muscat and his MPs during New Year's greetings that parliamentarians must be accountable for their actions

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his Cabinet met President George Vella for the traditional New Year's greetings at the Palace
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his Cabinet met President George Vella for the traditional New Year's greetings at the Palace

Parliamentarians are given the people's trust and must therefore shoulder responsibility for all that they do, the President has said.

George Vella, who was speaking during the exchange of New Year's greetings with Joseph Muscat and government MPs, said that he hoped Malta's new prime minister would work in the interest of the majority.

Highlighting that the past few "turbulent" weeks had made him reflect on the role of parliamentarians, he underlined that MPs had to be accountable for their actions.

He remarked that the removal of the time-bar on corruption cases involving public officials in 2013, and the more recent appointment of a Standards Commissioner were positive steps in terms of keeping parliamentarians in check.

Vella referred to his Republic Day speech - when he had denounced the "gang" that brought shame to the country - saying that the focus should now be on what has to be done in the future.

"I believe that we can unite, and, just as we got through bad periods in the past, we have the potential to do that now," Vella said.

"Our country deserves to return to normality and serenity, while continuing on the road of its achievements, including ensuring that wealth is spread equally."

Vella said that, as things stood, not all of society was reaping the benefits of the wealth which had been created. "There are those who are still suffering and some are even living in solitude… It is every parliamentary group's duty to pay attention to such pockets of society."

Vella expressed his hope that Muscat’s successor “will work in the best interest of the majority”.

The Cabinet and MPs heard the President call for more accountability from politicians
The Cabinet and MPs heard the President call for more accountability from politicians

‘I had my shortcomings,’ Muscat says

Speaking at the greetings before Vella's address, Muscat said that just as the President had said during his Republic Day speech, the past weeks had been "a particular period for the country."

In the last seven years, Muscat said, the government had a strong commitment to generate wealth and distribute it equally.

The government made big achievements, including in the areas of civil rights and others, he said.

Despite this, he said that he had his own shortcomings. “I had my shortcomings... but in the end, the responsibility is mine.”

He thanked his MPs for having done their job very well, and said he had no doubt that they would continue implementing the government's electoral programme throughout the rest of its mandate.

“I will take a back seat in political life in the coming weeks,” Muscat said.

He also thanked Vella for the “exemplary way” he had shown leadership during the turbulent past weeks.

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