Former PN MEP Francis Zammit Dimech, who has offered to be a “unifying factor” within the PN in an attempt to solve its current situation, told The Malta Independent that “radical decisions” should not be excluded where required and that the party should keep all its options open when looking for the solutions to the problems it is currently facing.
The PN went into meltdown after its executive chose Jean Pierre Debono to be co-opted instead of David Stellini, who resigned his Parliamentary seat last week.
Speaking to this newsroom, Zammit Dimech (below) confirmed that he has spoken to party leader Adrian Delia amongst others and offered to do his utmost to be a “unifying factor” within the party like he had done some months ago when there was a similar rift developing in the party between Delia and former leader Simon Busuttil over the Egrant case.
He said that this would involve talking to different people including the party leadership and the people in the party who have different views on the way forward so to identify how best to move forward.
Asked what, in his view, this way forward should consist of especially given the current situation where another split in the party seems to be developing; Zammit Dimech said that such a split is precisely what needs to be avoided.
“I think a split would be something which would cause very serious consequences not merely for the party but even for the country”, he said.
The situation required a period of “calm reflection” and for all concerned to take a step back and identify what needs to be done, he said.
“I do not exclude radical decisions wherever required”, Zammit Dimech noted. When asked whether such radical decisions include a change in party leadership, the long-time PN stalwart said that part of the healing process was not being that categorical with what such radical decisions could involve, but said that the truth was that all options have to be kept open by the party.
He said he would like to avoid a situation where there is one team leading and others feeling left out or, because the party needs all its resources and talents and different personalities together, before drawing parallels to a mosaic where each individual piece is striking for its own characteristic but where ultimately the bigger and best picture is when each piece is joined together.
“I would like to see a situation where we can redefine the machinery so that it is working together in its totality – but that does not mean a complete change; by that I mean that we need to find a way to rope in persons who for one reason or other might have felt left out for the past years and involve them more”, he said.
The last time the PN faced a rift like the one it is undergoing over the course of these days was last July when Adrian Delia called on Simon Busuttil to suspend himself after an inquiry found that there was no proof that the company Egrant belonged to the Prime Minister or his wife.
Back then, Zammit Dimech had also been roped in to help heal the developing rift in the party. The situation today is, one could say, less clear cut and more complex than last July – an assertion which Zammit Dimech agrees with – and requires a different way of going about.
Zammit Dimech says that the party must, first and foremost, enter into a dialogue with the people who are representatives of those who sent clear messages to the party in the last MEP and local council elections.
“That would mean engaging with civil society and with various nationalists who still feel hurt about mistakes that have been carried out in the past.”
“In my opinion the process also needs to involve redefining our vision for the future, and by that I mean redefining what the nationalist party stands for. I think we are going through a phase where the signals being given are – at least to my liking – too haphazard and not consistent enough; that is another part of the process”, Zammit Dimech said.
“We need to engage not only within the party but also outside of the party – one exercise which I think the party should embark upon immediately, amongst others, would be making sure that we visit and talk to persons who normally would have been Nationalist supporters but this time chose not to vote – these people do not belong to us; they are not objects, they are human beings so we need to know why they did it.”
“In some cases we can speculate, but even when we speculate it should not stop us from going out there and engaging with them just as we should engage with others who did vote but are still hurt about the way they have been treated in the past”, Zammit Dimech said.
This all being said, Zammit Dimech spoke of his admiration for Jean Pierre Debono for refusing to take his parliamentary seat, saying that this is a “noble gesture” which was no doubt done with the best interest of the party at heart. He said that the decision should be seen as a strong example of putting party interest before personal interest.
The PN implosion yesterday took a number of turns for the worse when Jean Pierre Debono renounced his Parliament co-option, accusing a certain faction of attacking him because he had backed Delia, and the PN’s youth arm, the MZPN, saying the situation was untenable.
The party treasurer, David Camilleri, also resigned.
To complicate matters further, two Gozitan voters filed a judicial protest in court, charging that the PN had breached electoral law. On Sunday, the PN’s Gozo Regional Committee had also called for the co-option process to be nullified.
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