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Franco Debono warns he will not back the government unless ministry is split immediately

Nationalist MP Franco Debono warned today that he will not support the government unless the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs is split into two portfolios as the prime minister had promised.

"I have told the prime minister that I will not support the government, and he can go ahead and call an election, unless he splits up the ministry by the end of the year, as he had told me and publicly declared he would do," Dr Debono told timesofmalta.com

"He asked me for more time, but I insisted that he had made a promise and that there are urgent reforms to carry out in the justice sector. There is only about one year left to the election and every day that passes is a day lost. Therefore unless the ministry is split now, there will not be any time, Dr Debono said.

Dr Debono, who sounded angry and hurt, said he had spoken several times today with the prime minister and with PN General Secretary Paul Borg Olivier.

"I keep my word, like I did when I abstained (on the vote of no confidence in Austin Gatt) Dr Debono said, "and I expect others to keep their word too, especially in sensitive and delicate issues striking at the heart of fundamental human rights and justice."

Dr Debono some weeks ago presented a private member's motion in parliament outlining far reaching and fundamental areas of reform in the justice sector.

He stressed today that the government needed to shelve proposals made in a recent Bill moved by the Minister of Justice which, he said, would give the Attorney General wider discretion in the exercise of his judicial powers without giving any reasons and without the safeguards afforded to judicial decisions. 

"I do not and will not tolerate shifting of goalposts or deceit," Dr Debono said. I hope everyone has realised the situation in justice and home affairs calls for very urgent action. Over the past years, he said, matters had degenerated.

"This country does not belong to Lawrence Gonzi or to Edgar Galea Curmi (the prime minister's chief of staff). It belongs to all the people of Malta and the government should be carried out in an accountable manner in the name and on behalf of the people of Malta.

"A democracy cannot function without accountability and meritocracy, where whatever happens no one shoulders responsibility," Dr Debono said.

He added that the prime minister knew he had been in a bad state of health because of wrong decisions in the past years by the government.

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