Former prime minister Lawrence Gonzi said he would support any constructive proposal to resolve the Nationalist Party's crisis, including a proposal to hold an open and fair leadership contest.

Gonzi said he will oppose any proposal that is designed to punish individuals who have exercised their democratic right to express dissenting views as this contradicts the very nature of what the PN stands for.

"And I expect persons of integrity and rectitude to stand up and be counted at this crucial point in time," the former PN leader said.

It is Gonzi's first reaction after embattled party leader Adrian Delia on Monday launched a scathing attack on Natonalist MPs who want him to resign, and promising to take drastic immediate action.

Gonzi, who served as prime minister until 2013, said he will attend the meeting of the PN executive committee on Tuesday evening and participate in any discussion and vote that may be called.  

I expect persons of integrity and rectitude to stand up and be counted at this crucial point in time

"I do so by virtue of my position as a former leader of the party and therefore a permanent member of the executive committee in accordance with the PN statute.

"I intend to emphasise our collective duty to resolve the present state of affairs as a matter of priority, both in the interest of the country and in the interest of the party," he told Times of Malta.

He said a way forward needs to be identified with urgency and will therefore support any constructive proposal that will resolve the present state of affairs. 

"This can only be achieved if it is done in accordance with the basic fundamentals of a genuine democratic process which is the only way to resolve any disagreements and dissent that may arise from time to time."

On Monday, President George Vella said Delia should be retained as opposition leader because the constitution technically allows only the appointment of the leader of the largest party in opposition, even though a majority of MPs have lost their trust in the leader. 

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