Newly-appointed Nationalist Party interim secretary general Francis Zammit Dimech has pledged to be a bridge-builder in order to heal the rifts within the party and reach out to people and civil society.

He also did not rule out contesting one of the posts which will be up for grabs once the reform in the party structure is enacted in a few months’ time.

Dr Zammit Dimech was elected to the post during Tuesday night’s executive committee meeting.

Asked about the timeframe of the reform piloted by former minister Louis Galea, Dr Zammit Dimech said this would take place by the first half of the year.

As for the way forward, he said the party needed to agree on its core values and carry out the reforms that were necessary.

Barely hours after his appointment, Dr Zammit Dimech was faced with the resignation of the PN’s electoral office (Elcom) director, Angelito Sciberras.

Mr Sciberras, who has been occupying various posts in the party administration for the last 20 years, said he stepped down in order for Dr Zammit Dimech to choose his preferred candidate to lead the party’s electoral office.

Mr Sciberras added it was time to inject new blood in the party.

€34 million debt – a 100 per cent lie

However, Dr Zammit Dimech told Times of Malta that he had requested Mr Sciberras to put his resignation on hold, pending a meeting which was scheduled to take place in the coming hours.

Mr Sciberras’ resignation is the latest departure within the highest echelons of the party following the resignation of secretary general Clyde Puli, general council president Kristy Debono and the deputy leader for party affairs, Robert Arrigo.

Meanwhile, former PN treasurer David Camilleri denied that the party’s debts had accumulated to the tune of €34 million, saying this was a “100 per cent lie”.

Mr Camilleri was reacting to a story published yesterday by Malta Today which also claimed that in 2019 the PN’s television station Net TV had lost €2 million.

Moreover, the story said the party was not in a position to pay interest on its ċedoli scheme – the controversial mechanism devised under former leader Simon Busuttil under which the party had raised money through loans from PN members and supporters.

In a Facebook post, Mr Camilleri, who served as party treasurer between 2017 and June last year, said the story, which he insisted was a complete fabrication, was only meant to cause alarm and damage the party.

Though he declined to give any figures, he said that in recent years efforts had been made to address the party’s huge debt, pay employees on time and keep expenditure under control. Mr Camilleri added that interest on the ċedoli was being paid.

Another denial was issued by former Net TV CEO Pierre Portelli who also left in June last year.

“When I left for political reasons, the financial situation before the finance team was much different from that being given in the story,” he said on Facebook.

According to Mr Portelli, in 2018 Net TV had managed to cut its losses by almost €500,000 while downsizing its workforce to reduce costs. In the meantime, the party was honouring all of its obligations, he said.

“While I understand that in the second half of last year the party and its media still had some bills related to the huge expenses incurred to organise the campaigns of the local and European Parliament elections, I can never believe the debt exploded as claimed in this story,” he said.

Mr Portelli said this was another attack aimed to destroy the Opposition with the ultimate objective of deflecting attention from the rife abuses going on in the country.

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