The Malta Independent 23 August 2019, Friday

Delia ‘not refusing’ to convene Parliamentary Group, Administrative Committee

Rachel Attard and Neil Camilleri Tuesday, 15 January 2019, 09:37 Last update: about 8 months ago

Opposition Leader Adrian Delia is not refusing to convene a meeting of the PN's Parliamentary Group and Administrative Committee, a spokesperson has told The Malta Independent, adding that meetings of these party structures have been held.

The Malta Independent sent questions to the PN after a number of Nationalist MPs, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that they had asked for a meeting of the Parliamentary Group to discuss Delia's personal situation before Parliament convened yesterday. The MPs said, however, that their request had been denied.

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This newspaper was also told that a request for the PN's Administrative Committee to be convened had also been refused.

But Delia's spokesperson insisted: "Nobody is refusing to meet. The structures of the party have met and will keep meeting regularly to discuss any subject deemed relevant."

On Friday, PN MP and President of the Administrative Committee David Stellini told The Malta Independent that the committee was working on organising its next meeting. He said that meeting would likely be held this week. Asked about the meeting's agenda, he refused to comment.

 Adrian Delia has been facing calls to resign ever since his estranged wife, with whom he is undergoing separation proceedings, claimed in court that he was abusive towards her and the couple's five children. The PN Leader vehemently denies the claims.

While the party leadership has organized a number of shows of force, including an impromptu rally last week at the PN's Dar Centrali in Pieta', to show off the backing Delia has from the party activists and sectional committees, it is believed that as many as half of the party's MPs do not back their leader.

Last week, this newspaper reported how a high-ranking PN official was circulating a declaration among PN MPs on Delia's current situation and the need for him to step aside. This was corroborated by a number of MPs and high-ranking party officials who, also on condition of anonymity, spoke to this newspaper.

The declaration, this newsroom was told, recognises that Delia's situation is a problem that he needs to deal with. It recognises that he needs time to think and asks him to step aside.

This newsroom is informed that, up until Sunday, an insufficient number of signatures had been collected; however, if a vote of no confidence is taken against Delia, a number of MPs are expected to vote against the leader.

Last Thursday, during an interview on INDEPTH, The Malta Independent's online programme, PN general secretary Clyde Puli was asked what he would do if PN MPs came to him with a declaration of no confidence in Delia. Puli said he would tell them to take it to the PN paid members, "and try to remove him."

"That is the structure," Puli said, while implying he did not have the power to oust the leader. He described rumours that Delia had offered his resignation and that he (Puli) had refused to accept it as a complete lie. "Do you think the secretary general would be able to refuse a leader's resignation?" he asked.

This newspaper is also informed that a number of MPs and officials had already approached the embattled leader personally and told him that his position is no longer tenable, and that Delia replied that he had no intention of budging.

While it has been reported that some MPs have been working to oust Delia before May's European Parliament election, another group is urging him to take a decision only after the election: "If Delia were to leave now, a few months before the election, the party would descend further into chaos," one source said.

On Sunday, this newsroom quoted an unnamed senior PN politician, who insisted that, "the PN should not appoint a new leader now, but Adrian Delia must hold a parliamentary group meeting as soon as possible."

The veteran politician said it would be "suicidal" for a leadership election to be held in the coming months, with MEP and local council elections just round the corner in May.

However, the source said, Delia should call an urgent meeting of the parliamentary group to thrash out any issues and concerns: "Over the years, I have seen a number of PN leaders take the helm. It has not always been rosy, but the party's structures allow one to vent any concerns or reservations.

"I must say, however, that I have never seen the party in such a state."

The retired politician added that it was not enough for Delia and party officials to speak of grassroots support when the parliamentary group is anything but united.

"What will Delia do in Parliament if his whole parliamentary group fails to toe the line?" he asked. "He needs to think about all this. On the other hand, those MPs who do not support him are in the minority. They should be careful and think of the common good of the party, not personal agendas."


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