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New Malta president lambasts 'disease of greed'

1 min

Malta's President Myriam Spiteri Debono decried the "disease of greed" in her inauguration speech on Thursday and said the 2017 murder of anti-corruption blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia was still an open wound for the small island nation.

Malta's President Myriam Spiteri Debono waves to well-wishers from the balcony of the Presidential Palace, next to her husband Anthony Spiteri Debono after her inauguration ceremony in Valletta, Malta April 4, 2024. Reuters/Darrin Zammit Lupi

Malta's President Myriam Spiteri Debono decried the "disease of greed" in her inauguration speech on Thursday and said the 2017 murder of anti-corruption blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia was still an open wound for the small island nation.

Spiteri Debono, 71, was addressing parliament after being sworn in as the 11th president of the country, which has been roiled by graft scandals in recent years.

Malta's president has a mostly ceremonial role, but Spiteri Debono, a former speaker of parliament, said she intended to be "visible and accessible" and offer "a presidency for the people".

"The relentless pursuit of riches, more often than not, translates itself into various forms of corruption," she said.

"It is worse than substance addiction, which, in the view of the majority of people, is the worst addiction one can suffer from. The drug addict, mainly, harms himself. Greed harms the whole of society."

She praised the role of the media in Malta's democracy and said lessons from Caruana Galizia's death still had to be learnt.

Caruana Galizia was a household name in Malta for her investigative reporting and her killing on Oct. 16, 2017 raised questions about rule of law in the European Union's smallest member state.

"The wounds around the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia are still open. We need to close this episode soon or else the fallout will persist," she said.

The alleged mastermind of the killing has been arrested but is still awaiting trial.

Referring to hostility towards migrants she said the Maltese people must embrace foreign nationals as part of the fabric of society.

"The first step to integrating these foreigners, many of whom are less fortunate than us and who have come in search of a better life, is to embrace them and understand them," she said.

Reporting by Christopher Scicluna

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