Indepth: Divide and rule was what moved this leadership forward – Mark Anthony Sammut

Indepth: Divide and rule was what moved this leadership forward – Mark Anthony Sammut

The politics that moved this leadership forward was the politics of divide and rule that pits Nationalists against Nationalists, and Jean-Pierre Debono kept on doing it with this letter, ex-Executive President of the Nationalist Party Mark Anthony Sammut said.

This week on Indepth, Editor-in-Chief Rachel Attard spoke with Mark Anthony Sammut, who on Saturday resigned from his post as Executive President of the Nationalist Party following two record-breaking defeats in the recent elections.

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Noting how everyone is afraid to speak out due to lack of freedom in the Nationalist Party, he said that the insults he  has been receiving over the last few days were incredible, going on to point out that Jean-Pierre Debono’s letter blamed his decision not to take the vacant seat in Parliament on politics of envy, the thirst of power at all costs and hatred.

Nationalist Party Political Co-ordinator Jean-Pierre Debono recently was controversially co-opted to fill David Stellini’s vacant seat in Parliament, but following public outcry and questionable voting circumstances, he gave it up.

Sammut questioned how he could be accused of having a thirst for power when he is the first one to resign from his post so that the party is given the “space to truly find who will unite, strengthen and move it forward”.

indepth divide and rule was what moved this leadership forward mark anthony sammut - Indepth: Divide and rule was what moved this leadership forward – Mark Anthony Sammut

He insisted that the idea that there were warring factions in the Nationalist Party was propaganda from the Labour Party, pointing out that there were people who also hadn’t accepted Lawrence Gonzi and Simon Busuttil before Adrian Delia.

“The leader of a party must always try to find a way for those people who are not accepting of him to be more involved and bring them closer to him, and not go out there and instigate Nationalists against Nationalists.”

Maintaining that this message was not only coming from just one person, he pointed out how the first message given in public was that the blame for losing this election should be on those Nationalists that did not vote.

“With all due respect, do we have a right to the vote of these Nationalists?”

“We should be going out and giving them a reason to vote for us, and not going out there and saying it’s their fault.”

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Core voters

Sammut had previously noted that, whilst it was a fact that people who proclaim themselves eternal followers of a party are decreasing, he wouldn’t expect those who identify themselves with the Nationalist Party because they believe in its principles to decrease – especially after six years in opposition, and six years of a government plagued with one story of corruption to another.

Warning about the over-extended period the Nationalist Party was taking to find its legs and understand what needs to be done, Sammut said that if opposition parties receive less than 33% of the vote, then “this country will become a dictatorship”.

“This is the responsibility that we have – as soon as the Labour Party hits two-thirds, then we can wake up tomorrow morning and live in a one-party-state and close down Parliament.”

“This is serious,” he pleaded, “being stubborn, keeping our heads in the sand, and thinking that we can delude ourselves into thinking that we can unite people after those same people lost the trust of the public is an illusion and we must understand this.”

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Vacant seat in Parliament

Speaking about the steps to be taken to fill Stellini’s vacant seat in Parliament, Sammut insisted that in the history of the Nationalist Party, they had always given the seats to the next candidate in line that would have been voted for by the same voters.

“For the sake of justice and democracy, we should not have even had an election in the executive.”

This particularly when Gozo was the only district where they had made gains.

“I would have expected the leader of the party to come and say that, in the interest of the party, and considering that it as a sensitive subject, and the fact that Gozo was the only place where gains were made, and the fact that the Labour Party just gave them their first Gozitan MEP – then we should not have been the ones who took a seat away from them.”

He decried the lost chance where in the same week that the Labour Party had boasted about getting a disabled individual elected into a local council, they had a chance to put the first person with a disability into Malta’s Parliament and they kicked it aside.

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Earlier story

Adrian Delia should not ask for a vote of confidence but immediately resign, taking his team with him, ex-Nationalist Party executive committee president Mark Anthony Sammut said.

Apart from the leader, Sammut says that secretary general Clyde Puli, the two deputy leaders David Agius and Robert Arrigo, the party’s media chairman Pierre Portelli and political coordinator Jean Pierre Debono should also go.

Sammut was being interviewed in this week’s edition of Indepth by Editor-in-Chief Rachel Attard, three days after he resigned from his post as president of the PN’s executive committee.

The resignation follows the party’s massive electoral defeats in the European Parliament and local council elections. Sammut resigned at the end of an executive committee meeting which generated even more controversy and in-fighting, after the party voted to co-opt Jean Pierre Debono to Parliament in replacement of David Stellini. Debono eventually renounced the seat.

Sammut said he did not mean that Delia and Puli are “disposable” – “they could definitely have a role in the party.

“But neither they, nor I, or any of the people who are often referred to as belonging to some form of plot are the solution for the party to unite and move forward.”

He said that Delia had shown potential but had been taken over by others around him. 

Sammut insisted that there is a need to make space for new blood that is capable of uniting and leading the party.

He maintained that “there is no other choice” but for the PN to have a new leader going into the next general elections.

For this to happen he insisted that there first needs to be the space and the liberty for others to come forward.

“Before I took this step, I took note that there is someone ready to fill this space, or else I would not have made that call.”

When pushed to name names, he said that it was not his responsibility to say who they are, as they must first be given the space to come forward.

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