The Speaker has refused an Opposition motion for an urgent Parliamentary sitting to express no confidence in Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis.

In a decision communicated to Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech on Tuesday, parliament's clerk informed him that the subject matter did not qualify as urgent in nature. 

The PN motion called on MPs to censure Zammit Lewis and demand his resignation as minister after The Sunday Times of Malta revealed messages Zammit Lewis exchanged with Yorgen Fenech.

The report showed how in January 2019, Zammit Lewis sent messages to Yorgen Fenech mocking calls for justice made by then Opposition leader Simon Busuttil over the businessman’s secret company 17 Black.

Fenech was exposed in late 2018 as the owner of secret company 17 Black and currently faces complicity in murder charges for the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.  

Zammit Lewis has also been singled out for criticism for having described his own party's supporters as 'Gahan' - a Maltese folk character known for his stupidity. 

Parliament: motion does not meet definition of urgency

The government side of the House has argued against the debate being held with urgency, with whip Glenn Bedingfield arguing in a letter that the motion did not qualify as urgent.

The Speaker noted that while parliamentary rules do not define “urgent”, this must constitute a matter that is “definite and of public importance” and that cannot be debated at a later date.

“One also notes that in similar requests, the practice is to consider both sides’ positions, to see if some sort of agreement can be reached,” he added.

The motion will now have to be presented as a private members’ bill and be added to parliament’s agenda if it is to be debated. MPs are currently on their summer recess.

PN: Abela has failed first post-inquiry test

In a statement, the PN said that the refusal to debate the no-confidence motion with urgency meant that Prime Minister Robert Abela had failed in his first test to accept the Daphne Caruana Galizia inquiry conclusions.

The Prime Minister, the PN said, could not see that the minister should not continue to hold his position as minister.

It is clear that Abela cannot act against certain people in his cabinet, the party said.

It added that those who breached good governance cannot repair the damage so Zammit Lewis cannot implement the changes being sought by the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry, the PN said.

This was because he had been in cahoots with the owner of 17 Black.

Giving an example, the PN asked how could Zammit Lewis recommend legislation against abuse by people who occupied a public post, if this same law would turn his actions into a crime.

Because of this conflict, the Opposition was reiterating its call for Zammit Lewis to resign without delay and for Abela to dismiss him if he did not do so. 

The country, the PN said, deserved a Justice Minister who was not associated with people about whom there were serious allegations. It deserved a minister who had not been part and parcel in the creation and implementation of a culture of impunity that led to Caruana Galizia’s murder, it insisted.

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