- Posted April 5, 2014 by
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A president for the people
With a political background rooted deep amongst the people, the former Social Services Minister’s commented "This is a celebration of the people... not the President."
The 6 hour shebang kicked off with a solemn mass at Dar il-Providenza, in Siggiewi. This was a breaking of tradition as all previous presidents had their inauguration mass at St John's Cathedral in Valletta.Never the less, as per tradition, the mass is concelebrated by the Archbishop, Paul Cremona. The solemn mass was held in a semi-circle, with the altar in the middle. A Maltese flag - which will be raised at San Anton’s Presidential Palace - was presented by representatives from the three Maltese political parties, to the archbishop for blesing. Id-Dar tal-Providenza was packed with 1,200 invitees, including the new President's relatives, close aides, former ministry employees, dignitaries and 100 residents of the Siggiewi home.
After mass Coleiro Preca rode through the two parishes of her home town Qormi on her way to Valletta. escorted by police officers clad in their No1 dress, astride their polished bikes.
Arriving in Valletta, the President-to-be walked to the Grand Master’s Palace and Seat of the Parliament accompanied by school children.
At around 18:20, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca took her oath of office becoming Malta's ninth and second female president. In the Grand Council Chamber the House of Representatives held a sitting acknowledging the appointment of the new president, as a fanfare by trumpeters from the Armed Forces of Malta was played. At Fort St Elmo the AFM fired a 21 gun salute.
In her first speech as President, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca said that the geostrategic importance of Malta continues to gather significance against the backdrop of the huge influx of immigrants arriving on our shores.
“While aware of the humanitarian element attached to such arrivals, and the need to give these people all the humanitarian assistance they deserve, our country's size and population density makes it impossible to give our best to these people, who are searching for refuge from conflicts and wars, and aspire for a better life. This fact makes our country dependent for assistance on neighbouring countries and the European Union. Malta has the support of neighbouring countries, as well as that of Non-Governmental Organisations and the United Nations, who, while sympathetic with our country's experiences, also acknowledge the fact that Malta is a special case. They also demand a lasting solution to stop this human tragedy”.
“Here, my appeal is to the international community to consider it as their duty to help countries such as Malta, to share the responsibilities and opportunities of such a phenomenon.
This Presidency is also concerned with this, hence I believe that we should continue working in the direction of finding long-term solutions and be catalysts in the process to break-up internationally organised criminal trafficking circles that are wrecking havoc for thousands of lives. As political instability continues in neighbouring Libya and war rages in Syria, my appeal to the Diplomatic Corps present here today is to strengthen our efforts through effective dialogue to get solutions”.
“I strongly believe that dialogue remains an effective instrument that brings people together.
It saddens me how our region, the cradle of civilisation, still cannot manage to establish peaceful coexistence. It is a coexistence that could reach its aim if there is recognition and respect towards the different cultures and peoples, the opinions and the different beliefs, as well as languages and multi-ethnic traditions”.
After the speech, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca saluted the public from the main balcony of the Palace, flanked by the Prime Minister, the Opposition leader and by Alternattiva Demokratika Chairman Arnold Cassola. Then the President walked down to the courtyard of the Gran Master’s Palace were she met over 300 guests.
Walking out to St George’s Square, President Coleiro Preca was accorded her first national salute and inspected a Guard of Honour. The national anthem was sung by 10 Maltese singers. This was followed by a flypast by the Air Wing of the Armed Forces of Malta, bringing an end to the official ceremony in Valletta.
The newly appointed president, now escorted by Mounted Police, proceed through Republic Street en route to the War Memorial in Floriana for the laying of wreaths.
Coleiro Preca's day culminated at San Anton Palace where she met her 20-strong staff for the first time. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil and AD Chairman Arnold Cassola also paid a courtesy visit to the President at her palace.