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Update 2 - Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca: 'It never crossed my mind to be President'

Opposition congratulates Ms Coleiro Preca, regrets lack of consultation

Video: Jason Borg

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this evening confirmed that Social Policy Minister Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca will be the ninth President.

The news that Ms Coleiro Preca was tipped to be the next President was first announced by The Sunday Times of Malta on February 23.

Addressing a news conference at Auberge de Castille this evening, Dr Muscat said that this appointment was a very important one as it would lay the foundations for the second Republic.

"I chose Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca not because she is hailing from the Labour Party but for other reasons."

The Prime Minister said her nomination was necessary as at this point in time the country needed a head of state in his prime and not close to retirement. Moreover, the next President was to be in charge of constitutional amendments.

Dr Muscat said people knew where they stood with Ms Coleiro-Preca. Admitting that the government would be losing one of its best cabinet members, he said she would have a social agenda.

"The new President will still be in charge of the national strategy against poverty. She will also be in charge of the food aid programme, the national family commissions and the national prevention agency, among other functions.

"She will not be there for a ceremonial role but to work with the people. She will be the social soul of this country and a reference point for all. He said that this will be a watershed point and a gift on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of independence."

The Prime Minister expressed his belief that the next President had to be a woman, as this was conveying a strong signal of a female role model.

Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca managed to survive and succeed in the political arena she was in at a time when Malta was still dominated by males.

Dr Muscat said Ms Coleiro Preca was initially reluctant to accept the post but was finally persuaded. Reports that she did not want the job, he said, were just details and speculation.

Probed about claims that the Opposition was not consulted but faced with a fait accompli, the Prime Minister said that he acted in the same manner as his predecessors. He said that he had spoke with Opposition leader Simon Busuttil on January 9 and had raised the point at that time.

MARIE-LOUISE COLEIRO PRECA'S FIRST COMMENTS

Visibly emotional, Ms Coleiro Preca said she was flattered to be nominated as the next head of state.

"This was never my aspiration and it never crossed my mind to become President. I am not somebody fond of ceremonial poses."

She said that she was looking forward to be a catalyst to unite the country.

A stalwart who was elected Labour general secretary at 21, Ms Coleiro Preca will be the youngest person to be made President at the age of 55 and also the second woman nominated for the post after Agatha Barbara.

OPPOSITION CONGRATULATES MS COLEIRO PRECA

In a statement, the Opposition congratulated Ms Coleiro Preca on her nomination but expressed disappointment at not being consulted.

It was a shame that even on a matter on which there should be national consensus, the Prime Minister opted to persisted in his political manoeuvres.

The Opposition said it would be discussing the nomination and taking an official position about it during the next Parliamentary group meeting in the coming days.

 

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