Thursday, 6 June 2019, 08:07 Last update: about 24 minutes ago
Embattled Nationalist Party Leader Adrian Delia has refused calls to convene a meeting of his Parliamentary Group but the MPs are seeing how they can hold a meeting, with or without their party leader, sources close to the PN said.
Delia has been facing calls to resign since the disastrous European Parliament and Local Council election results, and the party further went into meltdown last weekend, after a botched up process to co-opt a new MP to replace David Stellini, who resigned a few days ago.
The PN’s Executive Council, on Saturday voted for PN political coordinator Jean Pierre Debono to take up Stellini’s seat, but the meeting of the executive was marred by the resignation of its president, Mark Anthony Sammut, who called on the entire party leadership to step down in the wake of the election results. Sammut and other later said the vote had been ‘vitiated’ since at least two individuals should not have been given a vote.
The members who should not have voted are David Stellini himself, and PN treasurer David Camilleri, who also resigned as a result of the controversy that ensued.
On Monday, Debono renounced his Parliamentary seat, accusing certain factions of attacking him because he had previously given up his seat for Adrian Delia.
But this was not enough to calm the situation, and even a number of the PN’s own branches have since weighed in on the situation, including the party’s youth arm, which said that the current state of affairs was untenable.
And on Tuesday, in an Indepth interview that was quoted by most media houses, Sammut said that Delia, Secretary General Clyde Puli, deputy leaders Robert Arrigo and David Agius, PN media chairman Pierre Porteli and Political Coordinator Jean Pierre Debono should all resign.
A source said that the entire Parliamentary Group was adamant on meeting, and would do so even if Delia refuses to convene a meeting. The source said, however, that this time round there were no efforts to collect signatures, like what had happened a few months back when Delia was faced with domestic violence allegations.
“It seems that the people who were behind previous attempts are holding back this time, because they know that fingers would immediately be pointed towards them.”
Executive to meet again, vote again
Meanwhile, a PN spokesman yesterday confirmed that the Executive Committee would be meeting again “in time” and would hold a new vote for Stellini’s vacant seat.
This newsroom understands, however, that before that can happen, Mark Anthony Sammut and David Camilleri must first be replaced. This could spell a further delay for Gozitan MP Kevin Cutajar, who yesterday told this newspaper that he is still interested in the seat.
Cutajar added, however, that up until yesterday afternoon, he had had no contact from the party.
Signature-collecting exercise ‘aborted’
The Malta Independent has also learnt that an effort to collect signatures from general council members – to call on Adrian Delia to face a vote of confidence – was aborted after last weekend’s developments. A source said that the people behind the move had ditched their plans over fears that the news would reach Jean Pierre Debono.
While Delia has flat out refused the idea of calling for a vote of confidence, the PN leader would likely still win such a vote, according to another source. “While Delia surely does not have the support he had when he was elected, it is believed that he still has the backing of a majority of tesserati (paid up party members),” the source explained.
Scenarios the PN faces
A political analyst told The Malta Independent yesterday that he sees three possible scenarios that the party could be facing.
In the first, Adrian Delia steps down or, at least, takes on a different role for now, and an interim leader is elected. The interim leader should be someone who has no interest in contesting a leadership race, but who would, nonetheless, steer the party towards the next general election. The source named former PN minister Louis Galea as being ideal for the role. Other persons who could be approached are Francis Zammit Dimech and Tonio Borg.
Scenario two would see Delia stay on as party leader without affecting any changes and the party split up as a result. “If Delia were to stay on without at least making some major changes, there will surely be a number of people who will consider setting up a new party or parties.”
Scenario three would see Delia stay but Secretary General Clyde Puli leave. Puli would be replaced by another Secretary General who would take on the task of trying to bring all different factions together. The source said, however, that this would probably not be enough to quell the PN’s infighting.
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