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Peter Fenech resigns as PN chief electoral commissioner

The new president of the Chamber of Advocates, Peter Fenech, has resigned from his role as the Nationalist Party’s chief electoral commissioner, the party told Times of Malta.

A spokesman confirmed when contacted on Wednesday that Fenech had resigned the post following his election as president of the lawyers’ body.

It is not clear whether he resigned before or after Times of Malta made the possible conflict public last week, in which it had quoted Fenech as saying that he saw no conflict between both roles.

Fenech also sits on the board of the Broadcasting Authority. He will retain this position.

Fenech told Times of Malta that although he had been nominated by the party leader to sit on the Broadcasting Authority, the appointment came directly from the prime minister and it was, therefore, not a political appointment.

Fenech has been a member of the Broadcasting Authority since 2011.

During a meeting the chamber’s council had with Justice Minister Jonathan Attard earlier on Wednesday, Fenech informed him that he has resigned from his position as the PN’s chief electoral commissioner.

In his new role as president of the chamber, Fenech will sit on the Judicial Appointments Committee which receives and examines expressions of interest from people interested in being appointed judge or magistrate.

The committee was reformed in 2020 on the advice of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission to ensure no political influence is exerted by the government’s executive branch when it comes to nominating judges and magistrates.

It is now composed of the chief justice, two judges elected by their peers, a magistrate elected by his or her peers, the Commissioner for Administrative Investigations (Ombudsman) and the president of the Chamber of Advocates.

The committee conducts interviews and evaluations of candidates for the posts and then recommends to the President of Malta the names of three suitable candidates.

In his role within the PN, Fenech was responsible for internal elections. He was particularly busy during the time when former leader Adrian Delia lost two confidence votes, one within the PN’s parliamentary group and the other in the executive committee. Initially, some individuals were interested in contesting the election but it was later decided that only Bernard Grech should challenge Delia. 

Delia was elected PN leader on September 16, 2017. He was elected by the party’s members in a process that was used for the first time in that election.

After the heavy 2022 general election defeat, Grech was the only one who expressed interest in the post and he was confirmed in his position by 81% of the Nationalist Party councillors.