Discussions on Malta’s next president have “stalled”, sources close to the talks have said.

Prime Minister Robert Abela and Opposition Leader Bernard Grech met briefly at the beginning of last week, after it was revealed the opposition would not support the appointment of any of Joseph Muscat’s 2017 cabinet members.

Sources said names of individuals were barely discussed during the meeting and very little progress was made. The two leaders have not met since, and it is unclear whether another meeting has even been scheduled.

With less than a month to go before a new president is due to be sworn in, Abela and Grech have not agreed on a person to succeed George Vella, whose term ends on April 1 and cannot be renewed.

Two weeks ago, Times of Malta reported how opposition MPs had agreed to block any politician who sat in Muscat’s 2017 cabinet including European commissioner Helena Dalli from becoming president.

They agreed they would not support the nomination of any individual the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry found shared responsibility for the journalist’s murder.

This makes it virtually impossible for any minister in Muscat’s cabinets to make it to San Anton Palace next month as, for the first time, the new president will require the support of both the government and the opposition.

One of Muscat’s former cabinet members was Dalli, who, several government and opposition sources say, was recently being touted for the country’s highest office.

It is unclear how the government reacted to the opposition’s decision and the Office of the Prime Minister would not comment when contacted.

“Discussions are still ongoing and the next president’s name will be officially announced when an agreement is reached,” an OPM spokesperson said.

He would not say at which stage the discussions are and when the two leaders are scheduled to meet again. He would also not say whether the government is growing concerned about a potential impasse as time is running out quickly.

A request for comment from the PN yielded an almost identical reply. Any announcements on the matter would only be communicated once an agreement is reached, a party spokesperson said.

Abela and Grech met to discuss the country’s highest appointment for the first time less than a month ago, in an “introductory meeting” during which “no names were exchanged”, sources had said then.

Following changes to the constitution in 2020, Malta’s next president will have to be appointed by a majority of at least two-thirds of MPs.

All previous presidents only needed a simple majority after being proposed by the government.

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