Updated 8.20pm, adds PN's statement

A political row has erupted over the appointment of academic, Frank Bezzina as Acting President of Malta while President George Vella is abroad.

The government announced earlier on Thursday that the pro-rector of the University of Malta would take on the role that has been held by former Nationalist minister Dolores Cristina for several years.

Within hours, the Nationalist Party said the prime minister had made the announcement in spite of promising the Opposition leader that he would be consulting him on the appointment.

The PN said the prime minister was constitutionally duty bound to consult the Opposition leader on such matters.

Months ago, the PN leader had initiated communication with the Prime Minister calling for serious and effective consultation in this position and others, and the Prime Minister had promised this would be held.

But, the PN said, he now just announced the new acting president opting not to communicate with the Opposition.

However, Office of the Prime Minister later responded by publishing a letter sent to the Opposition leader on June 2, seeking his opinion on Bezzina within a week. 

No response was received, OPM said. 

Government sources say the letter was sent to Dar ÄŠentrali, and signed for on reception. 

Robert Abela's office said an acting president was going to be needed this week so the prime minister went ahead with the appointment in line with the constitution.

The prime minister's letter to the Opposition leader can be read in the pdf link below.

But the PN later insisted that Abela had accepted to meet the Opposition leader but this meeting was never held although Grech communicated with him verbally following receipt of the letter published earlier by the PM.

The PM, the Nationalist Party said, never gave a date for the requested meeting, confirming that Abela would rather not communicate in spite of the PN's good will in the interest of the country.

Publishing a letter sent to the Prime Minister in May, it said that its requests, including in writing, for an agreement on appointments have been made since last year.


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