New Maltese citizens may be granted option not to have right to vote and be listed on electoral register

Updated - No agreement has been reached yet between the Electoral Commission and Identity Malta over the former's call for it to be informed when foreigners get Maltese citizenship, since they may have the right to vote.  

A mediation meeting did not yield agreement, Chief Electoral Commissioner Joe Church told the Times of Malta.

The Ministry of Justice said the talks are continuing and focusing on whether new Maltese citizens should be listed on the Electoral Register should they wish to be excluded from the right to vote. It said good progress is being made. 

The Electoral Commission filed a judicial letter a few weeks ago demanding that it be updated by Identity Malta.

The letter, signed by constitutional lawyer Ian Refalo, followed months of bickering after Identity Malta refused to forward the details of those buying passports and, consequently, have the right to vote.

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici said last month he would be assisting in ironing any disagreement between the two through a mediation session. 

The judicial letter said that, according to law, it was up to the Electoral Commission, not Identity Malta, to decide whether a Maltese citizen was entitled to vote or not.

By law, Identity Malta is obliged to submit a monthly list of all those who become Maltese citizens.

The Times of Malta is informed that, although Identity Malta did furnish the Electoral Commission with such lists, the information lacked the names and details of those who had acquired citizenship through the cash-for passports scheme.

This newspaper was also told that the Electoral Commission, through Prof. Refalo, had sent two legal letters to Identity Malta chairman Joe Vella Bonnici asking him to ensure his agency abided by the law.

The letters remained unanswered, sources close to the commission said. “It is unprecedented that the government, through Identity Malta, should ignore a constitutional body. It is even worse, and ironic, that this is done through an agency that falls under the political responsibility of the Justice Minister,” the sources added.

However the Justice Ministry pointed out that the names of all people granted Maltese citizenship are published every year in the Government Gazette and therefore nothing was being hidden.

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