PN general secretary Clyde Puli has told senior party officials that he does not intend contesting again for the post when internal elections are held in November, Times of Malta is informed.

Senior PN sources said that Mr Puli, a Qormi MP since 2003, has made it clear he will return to his government job to concentrate on his district.

Mr Puli was elected general secretary by the party’s executive council in November 2017. However, according to the sources, his position will surely be challenged this time around and Mr Puli is unlikely to enjoy enough support to be re-elected.

He struggled to retain his parliamentary seat at the last general election and his association with the current leadership, which has just emerged from two stinging electoral defeats, is not making him any more popular within the party, the sources say.

“He will be making an exit to at least try to save his parliamentary seat,” one person close to Mr Puli said.

When Mr Puli was asked whether he intended contesting in November, a spokesman for the party replied: “Mr Puli is fully focused on party matters, as his role requires him to be, and he will not abandon the party in its most difficult hour.”

Mr Puli irked many PN supporters following the party’s historical defeats at the polls in May by quoting figures from a 2017 survey by pro-Labour newspaper It-Torċa to show that it could have been worse. 

Meanwhile, the PN executive will this evening hold a crucial meeting as PN leader Adrian Delia faces a critical time in his efforts to hang on to the leadership.

After he ignored repeated calls for his resignation, the executive will discuss an unprecedented petition calling for an extraordinary General Council in which a vote would be held on Dr Delia’s future.

According to the PN statute, an extraordinary General Council can be called to discuss any issue if 150 councillors agree. 

The petition gathered 200 signatures and was presented to PN General Council President Kristy Debono last week.

In a statement later, Ms Debono said it had resulted from a verification exercise that some of the petitioners were no longer council members but she confirmed the meeting would be held.

The next day the holding of the General Council was again put into question by the PN administration, with a new statement casting doubts over the petition’s validity.

Dr Delia has publicly said he will respect the democratic process but Times of Malta is informed that during a meeting of the Parliamentary Group last Monday he refused to commit himself on the extraordinary General Council holding a secret vote of confidence in his leadership. Sources said he may also use Mr Puli’s planned exit as a ‘sign’ that he will be making radical changes in the party’s administration, aiming to avoid the vote.

Almost 5,000 sign petitions backing Adrian Delia

Supporters of PN leader Adrian Delia on Wednesday presented two petitions to the party expressing confidence in the party leadership, calling for reforms and demanding action against those who do not cooperate with the leader and harm the party.  

The petitions counter another, presented last week, which calls for a confidence vote in Dr Delia.

The PN executive is due to discuss the first petition today. The Delia supporters argue that the general council may not make decisions regarding the election of the party’s leader and two deputies since the statute only allows the leadership to be contested within three months of a general election. 

The first of the petitions presented yesterday was signed by 4,333 party members and the second by 530 members of the party general council.