‘We will not share list of honours with Gaddafi’

Former Nationalist MP Frank Portelli and poet Maria Grech Ganado have asked to be temporarily struck off Malta’s list of honours as long as Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi remains on the list.

In a letter to the President on Friday, Dr Portelli said he wished to register “a sign of personal protest” against the atrocities being carried out by Col Gaddafi against humanity in general and against the Libyan people in particular.

“If you won’t take him off for now, take me off,” he said, in reply to a PN stand saying stripping Col Gaddafi off his honours was not a priority.

Poet Maria Grech Ganado joined Dr Portelli in his stand: “I wish to add my voice to that of Dr Portelli in removing my name from the list of Maltese Honours for as long as Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s is listed too.”

She said in her letter she was very proud of her medal, which she received in 2000, “but have no desire to be listed as a recipient of an honour along someone who has proved himself to be not only inhumane even with his own people but a criminal condemned by international agreement.

“I urge Parliament to strip the Colonel of his Honours as soon as possible in order to restore honour to the list itself, and because I would obviously like to see my name back on it again.”

Dr Portelli had already written to the President in February asking him to consider stripping the dictator of honours he was awarded by Malta in 1975 and 2004.

However, the President’s office made it known that it could only act after a parliamentary resolution. The Labour Party did not react while a PN spokesman said there was no urgency over the matter.

When contacted, Dr Portelli said the government had to pass on a message that the Libyan leader was being censured, and questioned how the PN spokesman said there was no urgency.

In 1996, Dr Portelli received the National Commemorative Medal of Malta marking the 75th anniversary of the re-introduction of self-government.

“It was a proud moment when I got the medal but that has been degraded in a way,” he told The Times.

Malta rightly honoured individuals who demonstrated “exceptional merit in the service of Malta or of humanity”, he said. “Yet, on the same list, there “is the same man who is a killer.”

Even small acts were punished in court, he said, questioning how Col Gaddafi was allowed to continue to keep his honours.

“Gaddafi’s actions cannot in any way be interpreted as being exceptional merit in the service of humanity,” he told the President.

Even Queen Elizabeth II had stripped Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe of his honours for abuse of human rights and abject disregard for the democratic process in the country, he said.

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