Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi wants a “clear vote” in tomorrow’s crucial parliamentary vote of confidence in the government, as backbencher Franco Debono keeps the country guessing four days after voting with a Labour motion that prompted the resignation of a minister.

The government has done what is right at all stages of this unhappy story. I admired Carm Mifsud Bonnici- Gonzi

“I want a clear vote to know the government has the majority to permit it to move ahead with stability,” Dr Gonzi told The Sunday Times in an interview.

The backbencher told this newspaper yesterday he is likely to support the government tomorrow and keep supporting it throughout the legislature, but only as long as certain reforms are implemented.

Dr Debono last Wednesday voted with a Labour motion calling for the resignation of Carm Mifsud Bonnici as Home Affairs Minister, despite giving the impression hours earlier that he may abstain if certain conditions were met.

Political observers said yesterday the Prime Minister was keeping his options open and could call an early election if Dr Debono abstains in tomorrow’s vote, even though the government could carry on from a constitutional point of view.

During the interview, the Prime Minister rejected claims that he was involved in horse-trading with Dr Debono to convince him to come in line with the government.

“In politics and everyday life you can’t take actions when you’re angry. I can’t afford to do that. If I make mistakes, thousands will suffer,” he said.

But the political storm caused by Dr Debono is clearly causing ripples among the higher echelons of the PN.

Environment and Tourism Minister Mario de Marco said Dr Debono had a lot to answer for and must assume responsibility for his actions, as voting on such a motion was an insult to those who suffered at the hands of the police when Labour was in government.

Dr de Marco also had a message for those who are dealing with Dr Debono: “We must keep in line with the politics of persuasion and not the politics of appeasement.”

Nationalist MP Charlo Bonnici accused Dr Debono of crossing a red line he should never have crossed.

I was not judged based on reasonable arguments – it was simply political expediency- Mifsud Bonnici

Meanwhile, in his first wide-ranging interview, Dr Mifsud Bonnici expressed disgust at the situation: “In politics there are no values or reason left. I was not judged based on reasonable arguments – it was political expediency.” The former Home Affairs Minister said that last Wednesday, after the vote, Dr Debono walked up to him and said: “Take that! This is what you get for badmouthing me with the Chief Justice.”

Dr Mifsud Bonnici said that he was as puzzled by this outburst as those around him were.

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