Updated 6.11pm with PN statement below.
Victoria Buttigieg, who has served as state advocate since December, is to be appointed attorney general on Wednesday, the government announced on Tuesday.
The announcement was met with controversy. While Opposition leader Adrian Delia congratulated Buttigieg (see below), the shadow minister for justice, Jason Azzopardi, warned that the consequences of the appointment will not be good. He referred to a Facebook post by Matthew Caruana Galizia, Daphne's son, who had noted advice by Buttigieg, then assistant attorney-general, when the Electrogas power station contract was being drafted.
Prime Minister Robert Abela described Buttigieg, who will be the first female attorney general in Malta, as a person of "integrity" who has the "competence to carry out important duties".
Her nomination follows a call for applications, with the applicants having been vetted by a commission of three retired judges. They made their recommendation to Prime Minister Robert Abela, who accepted it.
I have accepted recommendation by independent appointments commission to nominate Dr Victoria Buttigieg as Malta’s new AG following public call. MaltaGov reforms for new method of appointment led to first female AG who has integrity & competence to carry out important duties. -RA— Robert Abela (@RobertAbela_MT) September 8, 2020
Buttigieg, 43, stepped down as state advocate to take up the new post, succeeding Peter Grech, who has retired after 10 years in the post.
The President said in a statement early on Wednesday Buttigieg had informed him she was immediately resigning from State Advocate and assuming her new responsibilities on Wednesday.
Buttigieg worked for some years as assistant attorney general, having joined the office in 2007.
In a statement, the government thanked Peter Grech for his service.
The functions of the state advocate were separated from those of the attorney general last year. While the attorney general retains responsibility for prosecutions and criminal matters, the state advocate is responsible for all government advisory and legal representation in constitutional, civil and administrative law.
Peter Grech's retirement was announced on August 15.
His time in office was marked by political and legal fallout from the 2016 Panama Papers data leak, which exposed the offshore dealings of a sitting minister, Konrad Mizzi, and the prime minister's chief of staff, Keith Schembri.
Grech's decision not to pursue those cases led to him facing calls to step down by civil society activists and Opposition politicians.
Buttigieg graduated as doctor of laws from the University of Malta in 2001, later pursuing a master of arts in financial services. Working extensively in the field of litigation, her specialisations are in civil, administrative and constitutional law.
She has contributed to several law reform projects, and has represented the government at various international meetings and committees.
Delia congratulates Buttigieg, Jason Azzopardi takes different position
In a statement PN leader Adrian Delia congratulated Buttigieg. He said the new attorney general faced a tough task to win back dignity and respect for the Office of the Attorney General after its reputation was tarnished by her predecessor 'who ended up a government puppet'.
He augured that the new attorney general would act fairly and independently.
The shadow minister for justice, Jason Azzopardi, in two posts, took a different position, saying that the consequences of the appointment would not be good.