Updated 2pm with PN reaction

Repubblika president Robert Aquilina warned on Thursday that criticism of civil society NGOs by a new PN candidate exposed fascist sentiments.

Aquilina was referring to comments by Alex Borg, who on Wednesday “strongly condemned” NGOs Civil Society Network and Repubblika.

Posting a screenshot of a Civil Society Network post asking social media users whether they would rather see "the faltering PN" replaced by a new political party, Borg said that as a PN candidate he "completely disassociated" himself "from entities like these, whose main goal goes beyond the principles and values of our glorious party.

“I always believed in and followed the PN’s values. I will work in favour of the PN and our leader Bernard Grech. The two entities I mentioned are irrelevant to my work in favour of our Gozo and Malta,” the young candidate said.

In his Facebook post, he also urged all PN activists, members and candidates, to follow his steps so as to continue “strengthening the party”.

Aquilina reacted publicly hours later, after calling up Borg to speak to him about his social media post.

He claims Borg told him that people who wanted to fight for the country’s wellbeing should not form part of, and militate, as part of an NGO. The should instead join the PN.

'Apologise immediately'

“Those who know me know I believe in dialogue, but sometimes even dialogue has its limits,” Aquilina said on Thursday morning. 

“Attacks on Repubblika over the past few hours expose fascist sentiments and attitudes," he said. "There are no other words to describe them. There is no room for these kind of attacks in a democracy. Those who carried out these attacks must apologise immediately."

Referring to the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, he said society had already seen a person become politically isolated "and killed soon afterwards".

Aquilina said the NGO has been targeted several times over the past years, including by the Prime Minister, after speaking up about 120 people who were stranded at sea.

As a result of the “fascist attack”, Repubblika activists had to be escorted by the police. He said the attacks would not silence the NGO.

'Actions that distract from party's work problematic'

Times of Malta contacted PN for a comment from Opposition leader Bernard Grech, and was instead directed to a Facebook post by chief spokesperson Peter Agius.

"Actions by party members that detract from the party’s work or confuse the message are inherently problematic," Agius wrote on Facebook.

"Anything that distracts us in our mission is helping labour continue the degradation of Malta’s name, environment and societal fabric. I will keep working with Bernard Grech to unite the party in a coordinated message. Our country deserves nothing short of this."

In his post, Agius said the PN was focused on building an alternative government and Malta's reputation, getting off the FATF greylist, and working with international partners to fight global threats like COVID-19 and climate change.

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