NEWS | Wednesday, 12 March 2008
Nationalist Party (PN) leader Lawrence Gonzi was sworn for a second five-year-term as Prime Minister (PM) yesterday after the PN won a relative majority during last Saturday’s general elections.
The cliff-hanger election saw the PN gaining 49.34% of first count votes against the Labour Party’s 48.79%, a difference of around 1,500 votes.
Gonzi took the oath of allegiance to the Constitution of Malta in the hands of President Edward Fenech Adami shortly after 4.30 pm, in the presence of Chief Justice Vincent De Gaeatano and Chief Electoral Commissioner Edward Gatt, among other dignitaries. A sizeable crowd waving PN flags and honking horns welcomed the re-confirmed premier as he went by car from Castille to the Palace shortly after 4 pm.
After a short meeting with the President, Gonzi was escorted to the Ambassadors’ Room at the Palace, where the swearing-in ceremony took place. “I, Lawrence Gonzi, solemnly swear that I will faithfully and conscientiously perform my duties as Prime Minister in accordance with the Constitution and the laws of Malta, without fear or favour, So help me God.”
Gonzi then read the oath of allegiance: “I Lawrence Gonzi, solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the people and the Republic of Malta and its Constitution. So help me God.”
In a departure from the usual protocol followed during swearing-in ceremonies, Gonzi gave a short speech at the end of the swearing-in ceremony.
The re-elected premier said this was a solemn moment in the democratic life of the country and one which imposed a great burden on him as Prime Minister.
Gonzi called on the people to unite to build on their achievements, for their common good. He said he wished to thank all the people for what the country had achieved.
“We as a people have a lot to be proud of. We can argue among ourselves, that is important for democracy, but now that that is past let us now unite to bring out the best of this nation and grab the new opportunities which face the country, for the common good.”
He promised to use “every drop of my energy” for the benefit of the people.
On his part, Fenech Adami congratulated the re-elected premier and said the election proved the vitality of the democratic process.
The election, he said, showed that Malta had a strong democratic system and a mature people who had exercised their freedom to choose.
Gonzi, accompanied by his wife, Kate, and PN Secretary-General Joe Saliba, then walked towards the central balcony over St. George Square and waved to the public, which by now had huddled under umbrellas as the rain started pouring.
The sudden downpour prevented Gonzi from walking back to the Auberge de Castille on foot as scheduled, and instead he was due to return in his official car.
However, the plan was changed again as the rain stopped some time later and shortly after 5.30 pm, Gonzi got out of the Palace and made his triumphant march to Castille.
Among the top-notch casualties for the PN during this general election there were former Education Minister Louis Galea, former Competitiveness and Communications Minister Censu Galea and former Foreign Minister Michael Frendo, athough the latter could make it through casual elections.
Among the casualties there were also parliamentary secretaries Tony Abela and Helen d’Amato, all of whom would be completely excluded from forming part of the Cabinet if Gonzi appointed the Cabinet today.
12 March 2008
ISSUE NO. 526